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Coastal Counties Begin Clean Up After Hurricane Florence

Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence top a section of U.S. 421 near the Pender-New Hanover County line north of Wilmington.
NC Department of Transportation

Coastal towns and counties hit by Hurricane Florence are digging out from under tons of debris.

Pender County was one of the hardest hit areas.

“We think that Hurricane Florence is [Hurricane] Matthew and Floyd on steroids,” County spokeswoman Tammy Proctor said, assessing the flood levels and subesquent damage.

Proctor said clean up is underway, but it's likely to take a long time.

“We know that it's going to take more than one pass through the community,” said Proctor. “Once the waters have receded from all of our neighborhoods, then there's going to be more clean up required, not only the vegetative debris, but also the construction debris, where people have ripped out carpeting and drywall and appliances, so that pick up will be next.”

The county was battered by wind, rain, storm surge, and river flooding. Flood waters are still lingering in parts of the county. In other areas, water receded to reveal washed-out roadways. Some neighborhoods are cut off, making it hard for clean-up crews to get through.

Clearing vegetative debris is the first priority, Proctor said, before shifting focus to collection of construction and demolition debris.

In neighboring Brunswick County, clean-up crews are collecting branches, leaves and other materials. Spokeswoman Amanda Hutcheson says there will be multiple collection rounds throughout the county.

“We still have some people who either have not returned home from evacuating or recently returned home from evacuating,” said Hutcheson. “They still have time to get stuff out to the road. We do expect that this is going to be going on for a little while.”

The City of Wilmington estimates it will collect 650,000 cubic yards of storm debris as contractors make two sweeps through the town. Similar debris removal efforts are underway in New Hanover and Onslow counties.

Residents in all areas are asked to sort waste material intosix different categories and to pile debris between the sidewalk and roadway, or close to the curb, for pick up.

Above all, officials are asking residents to be patient with the clean-up process.

“We would love to have all that debris out of here,” said Proctor. “But it’s not going to happen overnight.”

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