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Bladen Families Still Trying to Recover and Rebuild

By Joy Warren

As forecasters were announcing a predicted turn to the Carolina’s for Hurricane Dorian, a group of local volunteers from Foundation Church in Elizabethtown were traveling to Clarkton to assist a Hurricane Florence victim.

It was Demo Day for this 82 year old woman and a crowd of church volunteers swooped in with hammers, saws, crow bars and lots of sweat to get the job done. The woman is not being identified for this story.

According to Tammy Keshler, Hazard Mitigation Specialist with Bladen County Emergency Management, “this was the first case for assistance received by Emergency Management after Hurricane Florence. The homeowner was evacuated by boat from her residence during Florence and has not been able to return yet.”

Pastor Jason Williams organized the group of volunteers in coordination with the Bladen Disaster Recovery Team. Williams said that “one year after the storm there are still several hundred homes in need of assistance for rebuilding and recovery in Bladen County and there is a need for more volunteer groups to assist in the recovery effort.”

While volunteers continued to gut the home, Williiams, Keshler and two other volunteers traveled to the Lisbon area to meet with another family in need of assistance. The family is not being identified for this story.

Williams recounted that “this woman, also in her 80’s, had flooding under her mobile home from Hurricane Matthew and then again with Hurricane Florence. She has not been able to receive assistance to rebuild/replace the home.

“Contractors told her it needed to be demolished and replaced and was not fit to live in. HVAC contractors told her they could not repair the system due to electrical hazards.”

The team met with the resident who has had many health issues over the last three years. The woman said, “I have tried to get help, but have not been able to get funding to rebuild. FEMA only gave me a small amount that would not cover replacement or even many repairs. I just feel really sad and upset that I am living in this house with mold and floors that are sagging from the water that came under the house.”

Williams and Keshler are seeking resources to assist her rebuild.

Bladen Disaster Recovery Team needs your help, whether through monetary donations, building material donations, or by volunteering to help these families try to rebuild and recover from the previous storms.

If you, your organization or church would like to volunteer or need more information, contact www.bladendisasterrecoveryteam.org, Jason Williams at Foundation Church or Tammy Keshler with Bladen Emergency Management.

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