Pender Co. couple thankful for home repairs through STEP program; deadline to apply nears
PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Kevin Mott and his wife Mary have lived in Pender County for three decades. Their lives were thrown into disarray when Hurricane Florence swept through the region back in September.
“We had 14 inches of water inside the house, 46 inches outside the house, we lost flooring, furniture and clothing,” said Kevin Mott.
“It’s been so hard. No one in this area had flood insurance. Our backs were against the wall, we didn’t know what we were gonna do,” Mary Mott added.
That’s when they decided to apply for the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program. The program is funded by the state and FEMA provides temporary, partial repairs at no cost to homeowners so they can get back into their homes while long-term repairs continue.
“Our goal is to get people back in their homes where it is safe and secure, so they don’t have to travel back and forth to go to school and work, they can be home and be comfortable,” said Linda Smith with the NC Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry, one of two organizations contracted by the state to help with the STEP program.
STEP is available to all residents in southeastern North Carolina (Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, and Pender) as well as Carteret, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Jones, Onslow, and Robeson counties.
The Mott’s home is nearly complete, and the repairs were done in less than a week’s time thanks to hard working volunteers from Vermont and Charlotte.
“The STEP program has been excellent. These guys came in here, and on Monday, you could see through to the ground, there was no flooring," said Mary Mott. “It’s Thursday and its amazing its almost done.”
The program provides the bare minimum for homeowners like the Mott’s to return home. Flooring, nailed up sheetrock, a small refrigerator, bathroom, sink, plumbing, heat and electricity. According to FEMA the home must be restored to a suitable and safe shelter for no more than $17,000.
“It’s not glamorous, it’s the barebone minimum we can do to make them safe and warm. But if you could see what an impact it has on them, it’s a hope. It is a psychological benefit after being displaced for five months,” Smith explained.
Soon the Mott’s will return to their home — one with just a working bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, but more repairs will follow once they drum up the funds.
“There is nothing like home. If it hadn’t been for STEP, we wouldn’t be where we are today. This group put this house together so fast.” said Mary Mott.
So far, approximately 50 homes have been repaired or are under repair through the STEP program. There are 5 homes in Pender County currently getting ready for repairs.
To participate in the STEP program, eligible homeowners must now sign a Right of Entry (ROE) form by February 1, 2019. More information about the STEP program is available at www.ncdps.gov/florencestep.
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