'It was challenging:' Business owners still struggling to recover from Hurricane Florence

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— North Carolina lawmakers on Thursday unanimously approved nearly $300 million in additional state spending to aid in Hurricane Florence recovery as local business owners asses what it will take for things to return to normal.

Ilia Smirnov has a prime location for his restaurant and canoe rental business, right off the Cape Fear River. The location can also be the source of anxiety when a storm is on the way.

“We had probably thousands and thousands of people stop here to look at the river over the course of two or three days,” Smirnov said.

At some point, it became time to stop looking and start moving.

“So I think I got here at about 3 in the morning and we started to move all of our boats that were near by the river,” he said.

Harnett County, with the Cape Fear River and Little River, was not spared from major flooding and damage.

More than two months after Hurricane Florence, the water has receded, but recovery for the county is ongoing.

“You don’t realize how much damage the flood brings until it actually happens,” Smirnov said.

Florence left the kind of damage that warranted two recovery assistance packages, with state lawmakers approving an additional $300 million in funding on top of the original $800 million package.

“It was challenging, but I think the warning before the storm was excellent,” Smirnov said.