Online Originals: Three years after Hurricane Florence destroyed his home, New Bern man can finally see construction on new place begin

New Bern

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — Volunteers from several different organizations laid the cornerstones Friday at Donald Brimmer’s future home. 

Volunteers from Legal Aid of NC, United Way of Coastal Carolina, Baptists on Mission and Craven County Disaster Recovery Alliance all teamed up for the cause. 

“We’re here working with the Hurricane Florence rebuild work,” said Mark Pickett who is the Site and Construction Coordinator for Baptists on a Mission. “The home that we’re at today is a house for Mr. Brimmer, his home was damaged to the point where it was not rebuildable.” 

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When Hurricane Florence hit in 2018, a tree went through Brimmer’s home, damaging the foundation. After battling over paperwork over the past three years, they have just now begun to build his new home. 

“The homeowners that we deal with, it’s a lot of Aire property that’s been handed down from grandfather to father,” said Pickett. “You know through generations. And none of the legal documents have gotten transferred from those generations.” 

Joanne Rivens is the Regional Volunteer Coordinator for United Way. She said experiences like this are humbling. 

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“You don’t know what they’re living amongst,” said Rivens. “But you know what I mean, it’s just, it’s humbling. That’s all I can say.” 

She also added that seeing the volunteers from Legal Aid of North Carolina get to work on the house was a highlight. 

“These are lawyers and social workers, and legal, paralegals that are just now, for the first time in their life, holding a nail gun and their doing it like they’re the boss, Rivens said.

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Legal Aid of North Carolina help people like Brimmer with legalities in situations like this.  

“A lot of our work is helping folks get disaster relief, and whatever legal barriers that may be,” said Wilson Greene, staff attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina. “So that may be clearing title to a property, helping with a deed, prove that they own a home so they can apply to these programs.” 

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Overall Brimmer said he’s more than excited about his new home. 

“I feel happy and great. It’s been a long time coming,” said Brimmer. 

Officials said they hope to complete Brimmer’s home by the end of July.  

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