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Ocracoke Frustrated By FEMA As Residents Look To Rebuild

Sign on a tree that reads 'Ocracoke is greater then Dorian, we got this!'
Dave DeWitt / WUNC
Hurricane Dorian caused serious damage on Ocracoke Island.

A month after many North Carolinians witnessed little to no damage from Hurricane Dorian, one of North Carolina’s barrier islands is still desperate for help.

Ocracoke Island was devastated by a late storm surge that left leaving homes and businesses destroyed. Students still have not been able to return to school due to severe flooding. Gov. Roy Cooper has requested assistancefrom the Federal Emergency Management Agency twice, yet no federal aid has been approved. As the national media moved on to the next storm, Ocracoke residents are demanding that people pay attention. A longtime resident even wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times painting a picture of life on the island. WUNC Managing Editor Dave DeWitt visited Ocracoke this week and spoke to local residents and officials. He joins host Frank Stasio with an update.

There's a 30-foot-high pile of debris - Dave DeWitt

Interview Highlights


On the efforts to rebuild: 

They're getting to the tail end of the process of pulling everything out of the houses … A bunch of volunteers showed up almost immediately and really began that tough effort of pulling out insulation, and drywall and making those piles …  You’re starting to see that turning the corner now to construction and rebuilding some areas.   

On the struggle to get local children back to class: 

They don’t know yet how many of the students will stay. I talked to a couple of families who had young children and they had either already prepared or are preparing to send their kids for school off the island … Normally it’s a school of just over a hundred students, but now, who knows. 

On the process of receiving aid from FEMA:

FEMA has two different kinds of aid that they’re looking to potentially give to Ocracoke. Gov. Cooper’s asked for a disaster declaration. That is still on-going and being processed. People are getting very frustrated ... The infrastructure aid that would come and rebuild the infrastructure and then there’s the individual aid … FEMA has had to go there and look into individual houses to make their determination specifically. They’re going house to house and so it’s taking a little bit of time.    

Dana is an award-winning producer who began as a personality at Rock 92. Once she started creating content for morning shows, she developed a love for producing. Dana has written and produced for local and syndicated commercial radio for over a decade. WUNC is her debut into public radio and she’s excited to tell deeper, richer stories.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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