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Wake County Homeowners Weather Storm of Red Tape Over Hurricane Fran

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WAKE COUNTY — For almost a year, victims of Hurricane Floyd have been waiting for government help. However, it has been close to four years since Hurricane Fran caused an estimated $6 billion in damage. Some Wake County homeowners are still looking for relief.

Robert Muhn's property is bordered by five homes damaged in 1996 during Hurricane Fran and bought out by the federal government in 1999.

Muhn turned down the buyout, but for the past seven months the other lots have been vacant, in disrepair and wrapped in yellow tape.

"They're getting run down due to neglect," Muhn says. "This usually happens when you're dealing with any kind of government agency or program."

Wake County Environmental Services Director Richard Rowe says the delay to clear out the homes is complicated. He says various red tape, plus concerns about a buried fuel tank on one property and asbestos have put the demolition on hold.

"It's not something that happens overnight," Rowe says. "Our hope is that we will be done by the end of the calendar year, but who knows what could happen with other situations."

Raleigh residents are dealing with the same type of delays. Eight Fran-damaged homes are waiting to be elevated to limit flooding; three more homes are still waiting for demolition crews.

For Muhn and his neighbors, patience is running thin.

"I do reach a point, eventually, where the patience runs out," Muhn says.

Under federal guidelines, once the homes are finally demolished, the land must be preserved as open space.

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Cullen Browder, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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