Hurricane Matthew survivor gets keys to new home in Princeton

Friday, August 30, 2019 - 1:46pm

State Disaster Recovery Act provided funding

Barbara Fletcher’s home near Princeton sits less than a mile from the Neuse River in one direction and Mill Creek in the other. She has experienced flooding a few times over the years, but Hurricane Mathew’s flooding was the worst.

“I moved here in 1975 and put a $20 bill down on the house,” she said. “When I came back after that last flood, the bottom was saturated. You could pull out a drawer and the drawer would fall apart.”

After Matthew, the house was gutted and repair work started, but funds ran out before the work was finished, and mold began to set in. When Hurricane Florence came, the waters ran underneath the house and the mold problem grew even worse.  

When emergency managers from Johnston County and North Carolina Emergency Management became involved with her case, they looked at repair options. After consultation with professional contractors the decision was made to demolish the old house and rebuild new using funding from the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016. The Disaster Recovery Act provides state funding designed to help storm victims who have unmet needs after other Federal relief programs have done what they can. 

Fletcher’s replacement home is a 1,500 square foot, 3-bedroom modular home delivered in two large pieces and hoisted by crane onto an elevated foundation, high enough to raise the home above the base flood elevation.  Generous local merchants and donors from the Johnston County community pitched in to provide furniture, furnishings and landscaping. On her move-in day, friends, volunteers and staff from Johnston County Emergency Services were busy cleaning up the yard, loading dishes into cabinets and even ironing linens. 

“I’ve never had this much new stuff,” said Fletcher. “Most of what I had before came from thrift stores.”

Fletcher had insurance on her home, which replaced some things. “I had homeowners, but I didn’t have flood insurance,” she said. "It was expensive, but I’ve got it now and I will continue to have flood insurance.” 

“It hasn’t sunk in yet that this is my home until I die,” Fletcher said. “I pray to God that I enjoy it for a long time.”

Keith Acree