Federal Officials Assess Ernesto Damage

BURGAW -- Work is underway to determine if Pender and Duplin counties can qualify for federal assistance.

Assessment teams consisting of federal officials examined the damage in both counties over the past few days to determine if the flood is worthy of a disaster declaration.

The federal government generally pays 75 per cent of the qualified costs for counties during a disaster.

Flood waters have been receding in most locations, but many still had a hard time getting to their homes.

But however high the costs might rise, some residents stayed positive.

"It's not going to hurt me too bad, I can handle it," said Gordon Stone.  "You have to expect this kind of thing, living next to the river."

City and town officials in both counties knew it was too early to determine whether they would receive assistance from the federal government.

"This is just their first step," said Wallace town manager Ken Cornatzer.  "They like to come in and fact-find, then they might come back."

As Pender and Duplin counties waited to see what help they might receive from Washington, the receding waters were a sign that the worst was over.

Earlier in the week, Gov. Easley (D-NC) pledged $20 million for disaster relief.

Reported by Joe Keiley