Six months after Florence, Wilmington still trying to get on its feet

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— It has been six months since Hurricane Florence roared through Wilmington, and one of the biggest challenges in some of its neighborhoods after the storm is getting contractors.

That’s why people are relying heavily on volunteer groups to get back on their feet.

“We are recovering, but we are still in a recovery process,” said Lynetta Karlson. “We’re not 100 percent.”

Since the day Florence hit, Lynetta Karlson has been working to help her neighbors in the North Chase community in New Hanover County get back on their feet.

“It is with great pride that I live in this community,” Karlson said.

Mark Marcley, a contractor, said his phone is ringing off the hook.

“I’m getting calls on a regular bases, almost as if the storm just happened weeks ago,” he said.

Local contractors are stretched thin.

Marcley not only donated his services and a portion of his profits back to the community, he posted a video of the damage on Facebook shortly after the storm donations came rolling in.

Marcley said Florida Tile donated about $14,000 worth of tile when officials saw the devastation from the storm, one of the many benefits of posting storm video online.

Beth Shrader, a county official who oversees New Hanover County’s recovery efforts from Florience, said: “I think the recovery process is a lot slower than anyone would like.”

“We really took a big hit on our affordable housing spectrum, which is part of the reason that has become such a large priority for our board of county commissioners.

Volunteers are filling in the gaps.

Jeff Willis is part of a Toronto group called Shifted Focus, which attempts to shift the focus from yourself to others.

“What we get is overwhelming gratitude,” he said. “I believe that we’re called to serve. My faith is the foundation of who I am, and I believe that God has given us talents.”

Ed Sundy manages disaster relief crews for a Wilmington church and has been working since the day after the storm.

“We’re slowly coming back,” he said. “There are less and less tarps everyday (along with) new roofs being put up.”

Said Sundy: “It feels good to be giving back to people.”

Lynetta Karlson met WRAL News during storm coverage in September.

A station news van was close to running out of gas but she gladly shared some of hers.

“It was a no brainer,” she said.

Wilmington has made a lot of progress in its recovery efforts but it could take a full two years from the date of the storm for Wilmington to completely come back.