Owners, Town at Odds Over Damaged Homes

NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH -- Some homeowners say their dream homes have turned into a nightmare, all because of Hurricane Ophelia.

"We bought the house three months before Hurricane Ophelia. We never spent a night in the house. We still pay a mortgage on the house, we can't live in it... being banned by the town to do anything with it," said Eric Gislason, who owns a home in the area.

After the 2005 hurricane, the town deemed the houses un-repairable, though some homeowners disagree.

"Some of the houses could be fixed for as little as $20,000," said lawyer Ron VonLembke.

Last summer, both sides came to a compromise that would allow the residents to repair their homes and move back in.

But the homeowners' dreams were literally blocked when a sand dune was built behind their houses, instead of in between the houses and the ocean. The homeowners say it is unfair and unwarranted -- that the application shows the dune should have been built in front of the homes.

But, said Alderman Dan Tuman, "FEMA and the (Army Corps of Engineers) were not going to dump sand into the ocean."

Now, the homeowners are headed to court. The town says the houses are only worth $1,000, but the residents are asking for $300,000 to $550,000.

The homeowners are hoping to be in court by June.

Reported by Sarah Warlick