Family loses home twice, gets funding to repair hurricane damage

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A family is getting help from ReBuild NC to repair damage from Hurricane Matthew and Florence. (Photo: Kylie Jones/WWAY)

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A long awaited gift came just in time for Christmas for one family. They lost their home not once, but twice when Hurricane Matthew hit, then Florence.

On Thursday, Governor Roy Cooper stopped by to check out the progress in Whiteville.

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Between flooding to pipes bursting, the Settle family has seen way too much water over the last few years. With the help of ReBuild NC they have a whole team of people helping them make things as good as new again.

“You’re so grateful for the help, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt,” Sandra Settle said. “I told everybody I had hurricane PTSD and I was joking, but I didn’t know it was really true.”

Settle says the hurt of losing your home not once, but twice doesn’t go away.

“When I would walk in before, it was depressing,” Settle said. “It was embarrassing for my children. Instead of putting things away or putting them on the wall, I put them in totes. The mindset, I guess was I didn’t want them destroyed.”

Settle knew she and her family may not be able to stay in their home. The first time it was destroyed, she says they were told the damage to their home couldn’t be covered by FEMA.

“FEMA gave us $126 for cleanup,” she said. “That was it.”

Settle says they had to make the repairs out of their own pockets. Then, after Florence Governor Roy Cooper says the state tried to get as much federal funding as it could.

“But we know that there are a lot of holes in those programs, so putting together Rebuild NC helped us plug some of those holes,” Cooper said.

Cooper says the focus is now on funding for long-term recovery for families like the Settles.

“You’ve got to be smarter about how you rebuild, and that’s what they have done with this,” he said. “If we can get people back into their own homes, we want to.”

Settle says they never would have been able to make the repairs without ReBuild NC.

“There are only so many home renovations you can do when you don’t have the money to do them,” she said.

From walking in to a feeling of embarrassment before, Settle says that has all changed now. She feels like she can finally live again.

“Like Santa Claus has been to town,” she said. “There couldn’t have been a better Christmas present for my family. It’s just incredible.”

Settle says they are hoping to get the okay to move back in on December 23, just in time for Christmas.

Cooper says they have put more than $74 million in state and federal funding into Columbus County so far, and there is more Florence recovery funding to come.

He also says they are working on a buyout program for residents who cannot move back into their homes.