NC Recovery Series: STEP Program Provides Aid to Family After Being Hit by Matthew and Florence

Monday, March 11, 2019 - 1:32pm

Duplin County - Back in October 2016, when Hurricane Matthew brought widespread flooding and strong winds, Larry Williams and his wife, Daisy Williams would have never guessed that they would be faced with another overwhelming storm almost two years later in 2018. “I was not expecting this at all,” Williams said while discussing the turmoil of Hurricane Florence. The Williams family lives 400 yards west of Cape Fear River in Chinquapin where they experience heavy flooding often, but Hurricane Florence has been the worst yet. 

“Hurricane Matthew wasn’t that bad and we were better prepared. We were actually able to fix our home on our own when Hurricane Matthew occurred,” Williams said. 

Hurricane Florence was a monstrous experience for Williams and his wife as the destruction from the storm completely shifted the foundation on their home. The two returned to their home ten days after the flooding from Hurricane Florence had subsided, and the house was completely surrounded by water. They were still unable to go into their home to view the damage. 

“My wife and I stayed with a relative during the storm. The first time I was able to see my home and the damage from the hurricane was visually on TV,” Williams said, pausing as he reflected on his experience. “I just thank God and I have to keep moving.”

Williams is currently staying in a temporary home provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because it isn’t far from his job. The program that Williams is using is Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA), which pays for hotel rooms used as short-term emergency shelter for eligible Florence survivors.

While Larry and Daisy Williams have not moved back into their home, the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program has enabled work crews of the North Carolina Baptists on Mission (NCBM) to complete basic repairs on their home. The STEP program provides rapid, partial repairs to make the home safe, clean and secure, so the homeowner can return to the home while longer-term repairs continue.

“I am familiar with the work that the NCBM do as I know some of the men. I am well aware of their mission and their gracious fellowship,” Williams exclaimed when asked about his experience with the NCBM. 

The deadline recently passed for homeowners to sign up for STEP by returning a Right of Entry form; 4,256 homeowners signed up to participate. So far, 600 homes have been repaired or are under repair. 

When asked how he would prepare for future storms, Williams responded, “I do believe that I need to prepare better in the future based upon the weather reports and maybe getting a storage unit for irreplaceable items.” 

 

Hurricane Florence left a path of destruction and flooding through the state in September 2018. Since then, North Carolinians, with the help of federal and state resources, as well as nonprofit groups, have worked to rebuild hard hit areas. These stories showcase their recovery journeys as North Carolinians move forward rebuilding with strength and resilience.

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Author: 
Tierra Bethel