PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Governor Roy Cooper made a stop in Pender County on Thursday morning to survey several spots that were damaged by Hurricane Florence, including U.S. 421 near the New Hanover County line where a section of the roadway was washed away by floodwaters.
“Hurricane recovery is job number one in my administration," said Cooper. “Infrastructure and roads still need work. For this bridge, it is going to be rebuilt in a way that if floodwaters come again, water would pass under the bridge and not damage the highway. We have to build smarter and stronger.”
Cooper also made a stop at the home of Sheila Hayes on Shaw Highway. She and her two sons were displaced after a tree fell on their home allowing floodwaters to come through the roof. Hayes said it is critical for her to return so her two sons — one who needs a kidney transplant — can get back to a sense of normalcy.
“I just feel honored and blessed. Of all the people that have had great loss, for him to visit my home, it’s a blessing,” Hayes said.
Hayes will get to move back into her damaged home before Christmas thanks to the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program.
“We have asked the STEP program be established here in our state," Cooper said. "It uses a little money up front to get a home habitable before other long-term funds are used to finish a job.”
For Hayes, that means she has sheetrock for walls, unfinished flooring, power and running water.
“I am glad we can get in soon thanks to the help of volunteers, and get back to a sense of normalcy,” said Hayes.
Cooper also paid a visit to Sand Hills AME Church in the Whitestocking community, an area devastated by Florence where many homes still do not have power.
“I am coming to you today to let you know I understand how your lives have been disrupted," the governor said. "Please know, temporary housing is the biggest issue. We have 70 trailers in place and more than 57 waiting online. We know you all need help and we are working to get it to you.”