State, local leaders hope for resiliency as Hurricane Florence recovery continues four years after storm

State, local leaders hope for resiliency as Hurricane Florence recovery continues four years after storm
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA, N.C. (WECT) - Four years after Hurricane Florence ripped through the Cape Fear region, cities like Boiling Spring Lakes are still trying to rebuild.

“This, to me, is a quality of life,” said Boiling Spring Lakes Mayor Jeff Winecoff. “We’re Boiling Spring Lakes [with] no lakes, so we must get them back. We have to have these lakes back, we have to have our dams back.”

In addition to rebuilding, there is a focus on making sure the same damage left by Florence never happens again.

The American Flood Coalition lead state and local leaders on a tour Thursday to visit sites across New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties hit hardest by the 2018 hurricane.

Tony McEwen, the AFC’s Carolinas director, says North Carolina is better prepared for future storms thanks to more than a billion dollars in recovery and resiliency funding.

“North Carolina has invested- along with maybe Florida and Louisiana- a large amount of resources to ensure that public safety, that private property, that taxpayer resources, are more protected than they were before Florence happened,” McEwen said.

The AFC and local leaders want to make sure that money is spent properly.

“We’ve got to make sure that those resources- that those positive policy changes- are put around the state. That those are invested in a in an effective manner, in an equitable manner,” said McEwen. “Because for every city of Wilmington, you’ve got a Fair Bluff, North Carolina, that may not have the capacity of a New Hanover County or a city of Wilmington, to make a difference on these issues.”

Pender County Commissioner Jackie Newton is proud of the work that has been done to repair the Pender County Courthouse and I-40, which were partially destroyed by Hurricane Florence.

“Riding up and down I-40 on the bus with leaders from Raleigh, D-O-T, Golden Leaf, funding, [etc.], it just means everything to know that we are actively working on making things better for our citizens,” Newton said.

From Boiling Spring Lakes to Burgaw, leaders say getting recovery projects done soon is a priority, especially as the height of hurricane season looms.

“This road we’re on right here is vital for our emergency response people. Our police, our fire, our EMS has to be able to get to the other side and every minute counts when you’re trying to save somebody’s life,” said Winecoff.

The tour took state and local officials from Leland to Boiling Spring Lakes, Wilmington, across U.S. 421, Burgaw, and I-40 to view the progress that has been made in the four years since Hurricane Florence.