A pick-up truck drives on a flooded road past a farm that is surrounded by flooded fields of tropical storm Florence Hyde County, NC., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
RALEIGH, N. C. – North Carolina must be able to withstand more torrential rain, gusty wind, and the river, the floods of Tropical Storm Florence next week, but emergency leaders are already busy with the recovery.
Non-profit groups are prepared to serve tens of thousands of meals daily in the most affected areas, while the state and federal emergency officials to find temporary housing, including hotel rooms, for the storm victims in the weeks or months that they are supplanted.
“We expect a few days of rain, and our focus now is on the people from the area of immediate danger,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, as the storm subsided puttered slowly west near the South Carolina border. “And then we will be the shift in the composition of our communities back together.”
Thousands of the 20,000 people in more than 150 shelters this weekend, and others wait for the elsewhere can not return to their homes for good any time soon. Cooper asked displaced residents Saturday to resist the urge to return now and wait until the storm clears out and the roads are in good condition.
Houses are washed away by the storm surge or unlivable created by standing water, fallen trees, or other objects. And even if their houses survived intact, hundreds of thousands of utility customers that have no power and limited food options.
The North Carolina Baptist Men’s organization of the plan is to start with a rapid movement of the material of the kitchen in the interior, where they expect to prepare more than 85,000 meals a day when food operations are up and running. The first units were expected to come online early next week in New Bern and Washington, North Carolina, according to Jack Frazier, the Baptist Men disaster relief coordinator.
“It’s going to be a big operation, very big,” Frazier said. The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross usually work with the Baptist group by the transport of these prepared meals into the hardest-hit areas. Together with the other house cleaning and the repair ministries, Frazier said his group works “in principle restore a person back to where they were, as much as we can.”
The federal government’s approval late Friday of a major disaster declaration in North Carolina means immediate funds can go to help with damage-repairs and restoration for eight coastal counties, Cooper said. The number of provinces at this level of assistance is likely to increase.
State and the Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, who are already on the ground in North Carolina for several days, already talking about temporary housing options, state Division of Emergency Management director Mike Sprayberry said. They expect use of FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance program, which is paid for by both state and federal funds for displaced residents in the rooms.
“What we try to do is to minimize the time people spend in their shelters that they are today,” Sprayberry said. “We should take them back into their areas until they are cleared safe to go.”
The program was used in North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Some people were in hotels for months. In earlier hurricanes in North Carolina, where the residents lived in trailers while they rebuilt or permanent housing.
The long-term recovery will take years. Although more than $740 million for the federal, state and local funds are spent to the address Matthew damage, state officials are still working to distribute the $236 million allocated by the federal government last year to help compensate or to pay for extensive home repairs.
With almost 90 of the 100 counties with the setting up of their emergency management offices for the storm, all signs point to an even longer recovery from Florence.
“I’ll tell you, this is so widespread, you’re going to have a hard time finding a North Carolinian who won’t be affected by this storm in a certain way,” Cooper said.
For the latest news on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes .