NC Recovery Series: The Ultimate Cry for Help

Monday, May 13, 2019 - 9:10am

Sherrie Mickelson-Mickelson-Hilliard has lived in her mobile home since 1998 and has felt the impact of Hurricanes Floyd, Matthew, and Florence. However, Hurricane Florence has been the only major Hurricane to cause damage to Mickelson-Mickelson-Hilliard’s home that she and her husband, Rob Mickelson-Hilliard, couldn’t fix on their own. 

Mickelson-Hilliard and her husband stayed in their home during Hurricane Florence just as they had done for every hurricane since they had been in their home, but Hurricane Florence shocked them with its destructive impact. The water damage on the inside and the outside of their home devastated them.

“I was just stressed and I felt as if I didn’t have anyone to turn to for help. We were without electricity for two weeks and it was hard and challenging, “Mickelson-Hilliard said. “I applied for help through FEMA, but I received a very small amount of $1,500. I used that to buy a refrigerator, chest freezer and food.” 

Even beyond the damage of her home, Mickelson-Hilliard and her husband were having a tough time as she was out of work for at more than a month due to open heart surgery. Her daughters were constantly posting on Facebook for help in hopes that someone would see their story and respond to their cries for help. Some people did respond to their posts and gave what they could to help Mickelson-Hilliard with food and bills. 

Mickelson-Hilliard also applied for help from the North Carolina STEP (Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power) Program. The STEP Program provided basic, partial repairs to make homes safe, clean and secure to help North Carolina homeowners with damage from Hurricane Florence get back in their home quickly. 

Still recovering from her surgery, Mickelson-Hilliard began to post on Facebook by thanking the government for the help that she had received and her post on April 2nd to the Swansboro United Methodist Church, a smaller division of the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, was noticed by someone. 

She received help from a contractor through the state’s Phase II of the STEP Program. The basic repairs for Mickelson-Hilliard’s home was completed in two weeks. 

Phase I of the STEP Program ended at the beginning of April and Phase II will be ending mid-May. 

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.

Tierra Bethel