83 homes damaged during Matthew approved for buy out in Lenoir Co., more than 100 still waiting

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Some Hurricane Matthew storm victims in Lenoir County are finally getting some good news after nearly two years waiting.

The county was approved for a $7,925,908 grant in order to buy out 83 of the more than 200 homes damaged during Matthew. The grant, which is comprised of both federal and state funds, comes as many lawmakers in the state question why recovery efforts have taken so long.

On Monday, North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore announced he had reauthorized the House Select Committee on Disaster Relief to investigate recovery delays by the state.

“It’s been nearly two years since Hurricane Matthew, yet far too many people are still out of their houses and waiting for help,” said Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Columbus), who co-chairs the committee.

In Lenoir County, one of those people still waiting for help is Joseph Noble, a public school teacher and one of the more outspoken storm victims in the county. Recently, Noble was notified that he was one of 83 families to have a home approved for a buy out by FEMA.

“Hopefully we will get a fair offer,” he said. “That will help us move forward and to another location.”

But county officials say it could be months before the buy outs actually take place. Before anything is done, the agreement to accept the FEMA grant must be approved by Lenoir County Commissioners, which will likely take place during their August meeting.

Once that is complete, the county must secure attorneys and appraisers to begin the process of purchasing the homes approved for buyouts from the owners.

“I know it’s a long time, 2 years is a long time, but in the grand scheme of things it’s actually a shorter period than Floyd was,” Dail said.

Dail said they will prioritize buy outs for families in unsafe homes or who have significant financial burdens. He’s hopeful other storm victims can be approved for buy outs in the future.

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