HURRICANE FLORENCE: Cooper says Pender among hardest hit

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Governor visits emergency operations center in Burgaw

BURGAW — Pender County perhaps was hit harder than most areas of the state during Hurricane Florence, Gov. Roy Cooper said during a visit to the county’s emergency operations center on Thursday.

“One thing I think we know is that storm was absolutely devastating,” he said. “It was a gut punch to North Carolinians across the state and especially right here in this county.”

The visit to Burgaw was the governor’s first in Pender County since the storm roared through almost two weeks ago, dumping historic amounts of rain on the county and damaging an estimated 5,100 buildings. Most of Pender County, particularly inland areas near the Black River and Northeast Cape Fear River, saw extensive flooding that drowned homes and closed numerous roads.

“This storm flooded places that had never been flooded before,” the governor said.

Cooper specifically thanked first-responders who went out into the storm to rescue people from flooded homes and cars, saying the death toll of 37 people throughout the state could have been worse.

“I want to commend you for your bravery and your training,” he said. “There is no doubt that you saved lives.”

The governor said he believes the N.C. General Assembly will put any politics aside to address the storm. The legislature is scheduled to meet next week in a special session to primarily address education issues related to the storm — children have been out of school for three weeks — and possibly address other critical needs for storm relief.

“I believe we’re going to work together to do what’s right for North Carolina,” he said. “Florence doesn’t know any party labels and the response to this storm has to be the same way.”

Reporter Tim Buckland can be reached at