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CoastLine: Hurricane Florence Highlights Need For Affordable Housing


Hurricane Florence barreled into the Cape Fear region less than one month ago.  Now, the remnants of Michael are bringing more wind, rain, and possible flooding to southeastern North Carolina.

A new Elon University poll, released October 11, finds that in preparation for Hurricane Florence, most people stockpiled bottled water, food, extra flashlights, and gasoline.   And people were generally pretty satisfied with how well they prepared. 

As for whether North Carolinians feel as though they’re getting the help they need -- 59% say they are.   But a quarter of those polled say they are not.  The Elon poll also found, according to a press release, "strong support for restricting real estate development in flood-prone areas (76 percent) and for increasing environmental regulations for coal ash ponds (72 percent)."  Sixty-two percent support incorporating findings from climate change scientists into local government planning and ordinances. 

As people consider the increasing threat of climate change, just after the release of the United Nations Climate Change report,  families, small businesses, nonprofits – especially those who spend their time helping others are facing a long road to recovery.  The Salvation Army Cape Fear, for example, saw torrential rains and wind from Florence collapse the ceiling of its homeless shelter and kitchen on Third Street in downtown Wilmington.  Domestic Violence Shelter and Services had to move people out of its facility and now must deal with the cost of housing people elsewhere as well as rebuilding.  An animal hospital in Southport lost its first floor – and surgery center – and has yet to re-open.  The Blockade Runner at Wrightsville Beach just announced a months-long closure to deal with Florence damage. 

Again, these are examples that in no way illustrate the scope of the damage.  And, of course, families are displaced.  Before the storm was gone, Governor Roy Cooper was already pointing out the impending shortage of affordable housing in the state.

On this edition, we sort out where we are, where the resources are, and what people in this region are finding to be the most challenging issues. 


Chris Coudriet, New Hanover County Manager

Darrell Habisch, External Affairs Officer, FEMA

Amanda Hutcheson, Public Information Officer, Brunswick County

Recovery Resources:


Disaster Unemployment Assistance provides temporary payments to people whose employment or income has been lost or interrupted due to Hurricane Florence. To file an unemployment insurance claim, visit des.nc.gov or call 1-866-795-8877. Application deadline is October 17, 2018 for New Hanover County residents.

Temporary recovery jobs are also available through the state. Learn more here.

FEMA Disaster Recovery Assistance provides financial and direct services to eligible individuals and households affected by a disaster who have uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs. Apply at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.

FEMA has set up a Disaster Recovery Center in New Hanover County at Independence Mall (3500 Oleander Drive, Wilmington) in the Sears wing of the mall. The center is open Monday-Saturday, 9am-7pm, and Sunday 9am-1pm.

More details about FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Centers can be found here.

FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance is a sheltering option using participating hotels/motels to help fill a gap until survivors identify short or long-term housing solutions. Residents who have registered for FEMA assistance are notified of their eligibility of sheltering assistance through automated phone/text or email, depending on the method of communication selected when registering for disaster assistance.

  • To locate participating hotels, visit DisasterAssistance.gov, scroll down to the Quick Links section, and click on “Transitional Sheltering Assistance Hotel Locator,” or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-FEMA or TTY 800-462-7585.
  • View a FAQ for FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program here

Small Business Association (SBA) Disaster Loan Program is available to homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profit organizations of all sizes that were affected by Hurricane Florence. This program provides low-interest, long-term loans for households and businesses for damaged personal property, transportation and expenses for moving and storage incurred due to a declared disaster. SBA is also present at FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Center in Independence Mall.

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.
Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR