Lack of contractors slows Florence recovery on NC coast

View The Original Article Here
TOPSAIL ISLAND, N.C. (WTVD) — Winter is a six letter word by the beach, but property managers tell the ABC11 I-Team that a shortage of contractors is slowing the recovery from Hurricane Florence.

Treasure Realty, which manages 437 vacation rentals on Topsail Island, reports some 250 properties are still under construction.

“It was worse than I thought it would be,” Anand Gandhi, who owns a home managed by Treasure, lamented to ABC11. “We’re working hard so we can be ready for the summer season and the issue is there are crews who say they’ll come do the work, then two days later they say they can’t because they’ll get another job paying more.”

That challenge, Gandhi agrees, underscores the emerging crisis affecting trade jobs and the lack of adequate labor in carpentry, masonry, and engineering.

“We want local crews because they care more about the area and the region, and it seems they do a better job,” he added.

There are similar sentiments across the coast, including Emerald Isle, where the I-Team found several dumpsters, piles of debris, and an orchestra of hammers and saws.

“Although only a category one storm, Hurricane Florence remained over us for three days and deluged us with 30 inches of rain,” Julia Batten Wax, of Emerald Isle Realty, recalled to ABC11. “It takes time to assess damage, do the initial tear out of damaged walls, furnishings, floors, and cabinets–and then find roofers, make drywall and window repairs, purchase new furniture, paint and install new flooring.”

Chris Vandiford, Emerald Isle Realty’s maintenance manager, asserted the company will not be pressured into hiring just any contractor.

“For us, for me, a lot of these homeowners–they become like family,” Vandiford said. “Are you going to want to gamble with your mother’s property with someone who you don’t know and don’t trust?”

A number of beachfront hotels also remain closed for renovations, including the Bask Hotel in Morehead City and The Inn at Pine Knoll Shores.

Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.