City of New Bern awarded grant to buy, demolish flood-damaged homes

New Bern

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — The state of North Carolina and FEMA have approved nearly $1 million for the City of New Bern to purchase and demolish flood-prone and damaged homes, many of which have been in dismay since Hurricane Florence.

The combined money from both FEMA and the state will go to the city to purchase the damaged homes, after which they will be torn down and the land will be left as open space.

The program is voluntary and all participating homeowners have applied and been selected based on certain criteria. The application process determined whether certain homes in hazardous flood planes would qualify. After the city purchases the homes, the previous owners will have the funds to move to a less hazardous location.

New Bern’s Economic and Community Development Manager Amanda Ohlensehlen said this was great news to receive.

“So it has been a long road to recovery following Hurricane Florence,” Ohlensehlen said. “We have been working with numerous property owners that are seeking resources and assistance to mitigate against their own individual effects and consequences from flooding and from disasters, such as hurricanes.

“So this is a great next step, to help those individual property owners be able to locate somewhere that’s going to, you know, provide them less stress and worry in the future.”

She also said the goal is to prevent future flood damage to property as well as diminish danger to citizens by leaving these susceptible plots open after demolition.

Neuse Riverkeeper for Sound Rivers Katy Hunt said there are some possibilities for the land after the homes are demolished.

“Specifically here in Craven County, we’ve been doing a campus stormwater project partnering with the high schools of Craven County, in which we actually implement stormwater controls like cisterns or rain barrels, rain gardens, constructed wetlands,” Hunt said. “And not only do these control measures actively benefit the environment by limiting pollution entering our waterways, but they become outdoor classrooms for the students at these schools too.”

Hunt went on to say it’s important that we learn to work with the natural forces of New Bern’s landscape, rather than against them.

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