BURGAW, NC (WECT) - Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC 7) hosted a Hurricane Florence recovery roundtable discussion Monday night at Pender High School.
According to Rouzer, the goal of Monday’s meeting was to get residents’ questions answered. He said he also wanted to make residents aware of the nonprofits available to help them in the recovery process.
A few hundred residents packed into Pender High’s gymnasium. Several voiced their frustrations with the recovery process, and many said they haven’t been able to return home eight months after the storm.
They said the recovery process has been daunting because they aren’t getting answers on when they’ll get their money to fix their homes.
Carl Potter is one of those residents. He and his wife are still living in a FEMA trailer.
“I’m not expecting a whole lot, really," Potter said. “I tried not to not be real pessimistic, but I don’t expect a lot and then if something does happen, then I’ll be thrilled, but I’m not looking for a lot. It’s just a wait and see.”
The Red Cross, Pender County Long Term Recovery, Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, North Carolina Farm Bureau, First Fruit Ministries, the Food Bank of Eastern NC, Legal Aid of North Carolina and Duke Energy were all on hand to answer questions.
Rouzer said with a storm of Florence’s magnitude, the recovery process is going to take a long time.
“There’s a lot of bureaucracy involved (in the recovery process), which is one of the shortcomings of government being involved in this type of thing," he said. “Really, the government programs are designed to make sure people survive. They’re not designed to bring people back to full recovery, and that’s why we wanted to highlight the work of the nonprofits.”
Several community members said they have been blessed by neighbors’ help in the recovery process.
“I’ve had a lot of help from people, volunteers," Potter said. "I have had church people come in, but local people have really been unusually helpful.”
North Carolina Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry was also in attendance. Sprayberry gave an update on the state’s recovery efforts, and said more than 100 families are still in FEMA trailers.
He told the crowd, “You can’t have a successful recovery without nonprofits."
Sprayberry also urged residents to start preparing for the next hurricane season, which is one month away.
The groups in attendance told residents that while recovery is ongoing, they want to do everything possible to make them comfortable until they can get back into their homes. Rouzer said he’ll continue to hold the roundtable discussions around the state.