STEP Rebuild Program Underway for North Carolina

Friday, December 21, 2018 - 8:39am

More than 1,000 North Carolina residents currently living in hotels after Hurricane Florence damaged their homes will soon have a faster way to return home.  The STEP program, a joint venture by the state of North Carolina and FEMA, will provide basic, partial repairs to make homes safe, sanitary and habitable, so residents can continue to shelter at home while they make additional repairs. 

The STEP program was born after Hurricane Sandy impacted New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in 2012, and since has been used in Texas, Louisiana, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  FEMA designed the program to provide temporary repairs and essential power to affected homes, allowing residents to return home faster.

Residents who are eligible, will be contacted by STEP and offered the opportunity to participate.  To be eligibile you must: 

  • Be a homeowner living in one of the designated counties: Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Robeson. 
  • Live in a single-family, owner-occupied property and be ready to return to your community and shelter in your home after partial repairs are completed. 
  • Understand that completed STEP repairs will end your eligibility for FEMA Direct Housing in a trailer or mobile home and for Transitional Assistance in a hotel. 

In North Carolina, some STEP repairs will be handled by contractors hired by the state, and other work will be done by voluntary groups like the North Carolina Baptists on Mission and the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.  By mid-December, Baptist work crews completed 12 homes and were working on another 20 homes.  Contractors are currently being selected to work in the STEP program.

Work crews from Baptists on Mission can complete the partial repairs in about 4-6 days per home; however, deferred maintenance can sometimes delay that time-frame. Baptist volunteers from almost every state east of the Mississippi River have come to North Carolina to help.

“Homeowners are excited and thankful for the help provided by the volunteers,” said Richard Brunson, Director of Baptists on Mission. “When the volunteers come into a home to help, they are doing it out of genuine love and concern for the homeowner.”

Volunteers are always wanted and needed in many counties across the state. Several organizations are responding to this disaster, and you can help by getting involved with groups that are part of NC Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NCVOAD). For volunteer opportunities, visit

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Tierra Bethel