NC Groups Host Hurricane Florence Survivors
WILMINGTON, N.C. – More than four months after Hurricane Florence, people in Eastern North Carolina are still awaiting FEMA recovery assistance. They can find local help at the Just Florence Recovery Survivors Summit tomorrow in Wilmington.
The event is hosted by a coalition involved in on-the-ground recovery efforts. It aims to aid individuals who are struggling in the disaster's aftermath and discuss ways to prepare for the future.
Summit organizer and NAACP New Hanover County branch President Deborah Maxwell is concerned that some people have given up on seeking aid.
"A lot of people had mistrust because they felt that FEMA was the 'be-it-all' in terms of housing repairs and recovery. And it was not,” says Maxwell. “It was just the start of the repair and recovery. A lot of things happen now at a county level, through long-term recovery groups, Baptist Men, UMCOR."
The survivors summit is Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Coastline Convention Center in Wilmington. The deadline for North Carolinians who are eligible for the STEP program for rapid repairs to homes damaged by Hurricane Florence has been extended to Feb. 1.
The state now estimates that Florence did nearly $17 billion in damage to homes, businesses, farms and local governments – and as much as half may not be covered by private insurance or government aid.
Maxwell says the goal of the summit is to encourage survivors to share their experiences, learn about recovery resources and reflect on lessons learned through relief and rebuilding efforts. While more than $125,000 dollars in grants to homeowners have been paid, Maxwell says the storm also has taken an emotional toll.
"It has been daunting, even for someone for like me with minimal damages, it's daunting going through this,” says Maxwell. “And also, for people to realize that there is hope after this hurricane, but it's only when we come together and share what we know that it's available for each other."
The Survivors Summit is free to attend and includes meals, free childcare, and some travel assistance for out-of-town participants. Information is online at justflorencerecovery.org.