NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – Many communities in Eastern North Carolina are still making repairs from the devastation of Hurricane Florence back in 2018.
The latest facility looking for repairs is the Craven County Courthouse. Following Florence, the courthouse sustained severe flooding and damage on the lower floors.
“Floodwaters came in and filled up the bottom of the building like a bow, again, nine feet of water,” said Gene Hodges, the assistant manager for Craven County. “Also, in the bottom in that section, there was some critical infrastructure there.”
Since then, they’ve been able to make repairs on the historic side of the courthouse. Now, the General Assembly approved a $5 million grant for the newer side.
“Since the flood, we’ve lost our ADA accessibility into this portion of the building. We don’t have an elevator, and we’re still vulnerable to future flooding events,” said Hodges. “If the flood comes in, it can fill up with water.”
Along with functional improvements, they’re also looking at aesthetic changes on the Craven Street side as well.
“To have something that has a better aesthetic look than what was there previously. Again, it’s not to deal with the beautifulness of the historic part, but actually to work with the newer part,” he said.
9 On Your Side spoke with some people in town who are not happy with the proposed changes, but they didn’t want to speak on camera. Others are all for it.
“I totally support the county and what they’re trying to do,” said Sabrina Bengel, one Craven County resident. “I was there, I was an alderman during the Florence flooding, and saw what it did to that building, and the issues and problems they had.”
The county reminds residents the plans have to go through the city’s Historic Preservation Commission and is still a work in progress. They expect to begin the project in the winter of 2023. It should take about a year to complete.