Jervay residents still searching for answers, ask city for help

Jervay residents still searching for answers, ask city for help

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As Hurricane Florence recovery continues, some Wilmington residents feel they’ve been left behind, and they want their elected officials to help.

Residents of the Jervay Community spoke before Wilmington City Council Tuesday during the public information period.

Acquanetta McNeil, a lifelong Wilmington resident and the first person to have moved into the Jervay Community, said she wants answers not only on why some residents are still in the dark, but what the city plans to do as the next hurricane season approaches.

In November, the property managers at the Dawson street housing community determined that 80 of the 100 units had sustained water damage from Florence to the point that residents would need to vacate the buildings so they could be repaired.

Since that time, representatives for the community said many Jervay residents are still unsure of when they will be able to return to their units, and many have been unable to access their belongings.

McNeil said she feels as though because Jervay residents are on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum, they’ve been forgotten.

“We’re the people that clean your bathrooms. We’re the people that are custodians at the schools. But we pay our taxes, and live and work and play in this city, and this city basically said, ‘We don’t care’ and I mean they just left us high and dry,” she said.

The City of Wilmington does not own or operate the Jervay Community. The Wilmington Housing Authority does have a part in the community, but it is a public-private partnership.

Still, McNeil and others who stood to speak said they want the city to help them get to the bottom of what is going on.

Specifically, they want the city to make an inquiry into the situation.

Mayor Bill Saffo said the city will look into making that inquiry.

Saffo said he also wants to find out if the public-private partnership is receiving federal funds, and if those are being applied appropriately.

McNeil said her concerns go beyond the response to Florence.

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season begins in less than a month, she said, and she wants to know if the city has any plans to prevent the kind of situation Jervay residents were put into. She said she also wants to see the city push for more truly affordable housing.

Saffo said the city is working with New Hanover County on its disaster preparedness, as well as the affordable housing issue.

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