Many NC homeowners find insurance won't cover Matthew, Florence 'double hit'

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— Two so-called “500-year storms” have hit North Carolina in less than two years, and Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence have created unprecedented complications for homeowners.

Homeowner’s insurance and flood insurance often aren’t nearly enough to cover the damage from the two storms.

Matthew caused substantial flood damage to Staris Morgan’s Goldsboro home in 2016. Her homeowner’s insurance didn’t cover the water damage, and her flood insurance paid just enough for a contractor to gut the home and a replace a tiny portion of her ruined contents.

There wasn’t enough money to replace flooring, walls or belongings or to elevate the home as required by the city.

“I lost everything,” Morgan said Friday. “It tore my nerves up, I couldn’t stay here.”

She moved to an apartment – while continuing to pay her mortgage – but then Florence delivered another punch, sending even more flooding through her John Street home.

“[It’s] a double hit. I mean a double hit,” she said. “Looks like the whole ceiling is going to fall out.”

An inspector from the Federal Emergency Management Agency looked over the damage Friday.

So far, FEMA has approved more than 14,000 individual assistance applications for Florence recovery in North Carolina, totaling nearly $49 million.

Morgan said she’s to the point where there’s been so much damage that she wants to give up on her house. She applied for a buyout but was initially rejected, so she hopes to qualify after this new round of damage.

She’s also applied for community development block grant funding that was delayed after Matthew.

“We’ve got to find a way to make sure they are as whole as possible,” Gov. Roy Cooper said of Morgan and other eastern North Carolina residents reeling after Matthew and Florence. “The way to do that is to break down the barriers and the red tape.”

Cooper said he wants more federal flexibility to distribute Matthew and Florence relief money.

“It’s encouraging, but I need to see something get done. It’s been two years,” Morgan said. “I’m so frustrated and aggravated. I really want to get out of this flood zone. I need some help.