Homes still unlivable

Published 1:55 am Saturday, December 24, 2011

Nearly four months after Hurricane Irene, 195 homes in Beaufort County remain so severely damaged they are uninhabitable, said Jim Chrisman, assistant county manager and finance officer.
“I think there’s still a lot of needs out there,” Chrisman pointed out.
This week, Beaufort County emergency management mailed 56 letters to homeowners informing them their properties constitute risks to health and safety because of storm damage, said John Pack, emergency-management coordinator.
The homes Pack’s office focused on were occupied prior to Irene, the coordinator shared.
Countywide, private property damages, reported to the Federal Emergency Management Agency by residents, totaled $6.5 million as a result of the storm, Chrisman said.
As-yet-unreported damages may push this figure higher, he said.
Fifty-one temporary housing units, sited by FEMA, remain in the county, according to Chrisman. This housing was provided to residents who qualified for temporary housing while their homes were being repaired.
The numbers cited by Pack and Chrisman substantiate anecdotal reports from local aid workers, who say they’ve seen an increase in demand for food and other services since the storm.
In a recent interview, Sally Love, executive director of Eagle’s Wings food pantry in Washington, said the pantry had seen a significant increase in families that areseeking staple goods, partly because of Irene.
“We had a whole route in Aurora that was completely wiped out,” Love said, referring to a food-delivery route in that hard-hit community.
As the new year approaches, the county continues grappling with the impacts of Irene, which many longtime residents have called the worst storm to hit Beaufort County in more than a generation.
The county received about 18,000 tons of storm-related vegetative debris — 8,000 tons of it in Aurora alone — at its dumping sites after the hurricane, Chrisman said.
The county continues consideration of options for the removal of post-Irene construction-and-demolition debris, Pack said.
“We’re still constantly working toward the possibility of doing some limited debris pickup of some of those structures that need to be torn down,” he said, cautioning no final decision has been made and the county wouldn’t assume the full costs of the pickup.
For more information on storm recovery, call Beaufort County emergency management, after Christmas, at 252-946-2046.