Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington recovering a month after Hurricane Florence

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North Carolinians on the coast are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Florence one month after it made landfall.

Elaine Andrews said South Beach Grill, the popular Wrightsville Beach restaurant she owns with her husband, is nowhere close to reopening.

Rain water seeped in through the roof of the restaurant.

“We couldn’t get on the beach for days and it was very hot,” Andrews said. “We just had mold growing everywhere. When we opened it up, everything was covered in mold.”

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Crews are removing everything from inside, gutting it down to the studs. Other businesses in the beach community also sustained damage and closed, such as Shell Island Resort.

Disaster response units fill the parking lot of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort.

“The major cause of damage was the loss of the roof on the balcony building and more limited roof damage on the Tower,” said Nicolas Montoya, Blockade Runner general manager, in a statement. “In the areas penetrated by heavy rain, operations shift from cleanup to restoration.”

The target date for reopening is early spring of 2019, the hotel said in a statement.

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Some sidewalks in Wrightsville Beach have trash from the storm.

At the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the University Apartments student housing unit is inhabitable.

Nearby, the Glen Apartments are condemned because of water damage and mold. All residents have been forced to move out. Lorraine Kirkland is among them. She’s been living there for 26 years.

“We’re having to move from our home and pay a lot of money and moving from our neighbors who we’ve grown to be friends with,” Kirkland said. “It’s difficult.”

Kirkland said it’ll impact her 15-year-old son the most.

“I’m trying to stay as positive as I can for him but I’ve heard him cry,” Kirkland said.

Like so many affected by the storm, Andrews wants to get back to her normal life.

She wants to reopen South Beach Grill soon but is unsure when that will happen.

“The impact is huge,” she said. “This is our income. This is our livelihood. This is our life. But it also impacts our employees. We have about 30 employees. They don’t have work right now.”

Andrews and her husband have owned the restaurant for more than 20 years. She said Florence caused more damage than any other storm. In addition, a tree slammed into their home.

John Buchele is the contractor for the restaurant’s rebuild. His home was also affected.

“The whole area flooded,” said Buchele, the owner of Buchele Building Group. “I got about a foot of water in my house. But my neighbors got two feet.”

While some businesses are closed, some are open and business owners are urging visitors to return to the beach.

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