She now lives with her daughter in
Wynn is not a victim of Hurricane Florence. She lost her home almost two years ago -- on
Like hundreds of other people in
"It's like we are the lost children of the flood," she said.
Thousands more North Carolinians may soon understand Wynn's frustration. Hurricane Florence flooded out homes from
Homeowners such as Wynn continue to wait, even though the Hurricane Matthew money is available. The federal
More money is available through the
Yet almost none of the money for Hurricane Matthew victims has been spent.
At the end of August, HUD listed
Now, with another hurricane disaster crippling one-quarter of the state, it may take even longer to distribute the Matthew money.
"I'm trying not to be overly hard on the executive branch, but we need more doggone answers on this, and I don't want people to go through it again," said Szoka, who sits on the
"I said from the beginning, 'No one will blame us for the disaster. Everyone will appreciate us for the rescue, but we will be judged on the recovery,'" Keefe said.
He hopes that the recovery from Hurricane Florence will be smoother, but he's not optimistic.
Szoka said he's tired of hearing the blame game among federal, state, county and municipal officials. He said he just wants to see the money spent.
Time will tell whether the state can respond more effectively to Hurricane Florence while still helping Hurricane Matthew victims, Szoka said.
"That's the question of the day," he said. "I don't think (Florence) is helping any."
Shortly afterward, Wynn received
Wynn said she used a lot of that money to start fixing the house and pay rent before she moved in with her daughter. She also spent more than
A group from the
After 22 years, Wynn said, she was tired of living in an area prone to flooding. She said she still owes
"Nobody told us that there was a stipulation on the buyout money," Wynn said. "Now there's a stipulation. Oh, come on."
Initially, county officials didn't appear to know about the stipulation, either. They were moving ahead with seeking the HMGP funding for 21 houses in unincorporated areas, including some on
That may leave Wynn and others out of options.
Only two homes in unincorporated areas of
By comparison, 25 homes in
County officials could not answer why homes on
Wynn has grown so frustrated trying to get answers herself that she has all but given up trying.
"I have been thinking about filing for bankruptcy, because I can't keep paying for a house that I am not living in," she said.
----Wynn's situation is one example of a seemingly unnavigable set of
State leaders are quick to point out that
But that's little consolation to the 297 people in unincorporated areas of
One factor complicating the distribution of relief money is that
That doesn't set well with Keefe, the county commissioner.
"I think history will reflect that the biggest disaster to come out of Hurricane Matthew was the funding model used to help communities get back on their feet," Keefe said. "The constant changing of rules, the cumbersome paperwork, and the miles of red tape to process claims and disburse funds is a recipe for fraud and misappropriation of taxpayer funds. It makes it extremely difficult to be a good steward of public funds.?
In March, FEMA Administrator
"I have charged my staff with reducing administrative and bureaucratic burdens, so that survivors and communities receive assistance more quickly.... We are working with our partners to streamline and consolidate some of these activities to ensure survivors can better navigate our various programs."
In fiscal 2016,
Keefe said he has tried to follow the money for hurricane relief locally to safeguard against fraud in
Keefe also questions why
The money comes from the state legislature's Disaster Recovery Act of 2017, which earmarks an additional
In late August, Assistant County Manager
On Monday, Jackson said, a draft agreement had been reached, but he had no timetable on when the money might become available.
On Tuesday, the county released a list of the 10 houses that will benefit from the Disaster Recovery Act money. The list includes five houses on
Jackson called the
Keefe called spending
Within 5 minutes, Cooper said, floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew had risen out of a creek behind
"The water was flowing so hard and so fast my husband had to hold me down," said Cooper, who uses a walker. "I felt like the water was going to wash me away."
Today, Cooper's home sits abandoned, and
Cooper said she has already collected
Because of the hurricane, the Coopers also became eligible for a
The Coopers have done nothing improper.
But city and county officials question whether people should be entitled to both reimbursement from flood insurance and HMGP money.
"I would refer to
"To me, that's double dipping," added
But the state believes otherwise.
"Yes they are still eligible," said
County officials stress that the cost figures are only estimates prepared by
Keefe, the county commissioner, says he is frustrated by the stipulations placed on how the county can spend the money for hurricane relief.
Initially, Keefe said, more than
"This amount of money would be transformational to any community that has identified stormwater drainage and runoff as a major issue," Keefe said, noting that
"As a community, we should be able to fund projects that are needed and affect the community as a whole."
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