Saturday, July 13, 2024

With nearly 7,000 FEMA claims filed in Brunswick, county to address housing shortage

Brunswick County is proposing to establish a temporary housing program that would allow people to live in their own homes as repairs are made to account for the recent shortage in housing.

Brandon Phillips, an independent volunteer, moves molded sheetrock out of a flood damaged home in Leland. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
Brandon Phillips, an independent volunteer, moves molded sheetrock out of a flood damaged home in Leland. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — The aftermath of Hurricane Florence has created a housing shortage in Brunswick County.

An estimated 10 percent of homes were significantly impacted, prompting nearly 7,000 applications for individual assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

RELATED: Two years after Hurricane Matthew, North Carolina has distributed almost none of its federal recovery funds

To accommodate for the shortage, the county is proposing to establish a program that allows displaced individuals to live in their own homes as repairs are completed.


The county wants the state to ask FEMA to establish a Shelter and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Pilot Program.

In a draft letter addressed to Governor Roy Cooper, Brunswick County finds there are only 270 hotel rooms available in the county. Long-term housing options are also spread thin; the county told Cooper its stock is “severely limited.”

If established, STEP could help fill the gaps of available housing options. Cape Fear Council of Government would oversee the program, where individuals with moderate housing damage can live in their homes while repairs are completed. According to a presentation on STEP, some minimal repairs would be funded by the program.

Eligible repairs include the following minor-to-moderate repair work:

  • Minor interior and/or exterior work to provide safe access and living environment
  • Drywall replacement to safely covering of any exposed electrical work
  • Properly insulation
  • Ensure one useable bathroom vanity, sink, toilet, and tank
  • Ensure functional kitchen facilities to include minimal cooking and refrigeration appliances to shelter in place (not to exceed $500) and/or mini fridges for doctor prescribed medical needs
  • Ensure safe and adequate sleeping accommodations for all households members
  • Address items and work necessary to ensure safe shelter for individuals with access and functional items
  • Work necessary to provide essential electrical supply, HVAC, and hot water
  • Work necessary to restore natural gas supply if required for HVAC, hot water, and/or food preparation
  • Work necessary to provide a potable water supply or conduct well decontamination
  • Weatherproofing to include roof, wall, and windows
  • Securing broken windows, and repair or replacement of nonfunctioning exterior and/or necessary interior doors
  • Removal of disaster-related debris to curbside necessary to safely enter, inspect, and perform eligible emergency work, and safe shelter in place

Homes that require extensive repair work, including mitigation to remove the presence of toxic materials like mold, would not be eligible for the STEP program.

What it will do

On Monday, Brunswick County Commissioners discussed establishing a STEP program for their residents. A “rapid repair” initiative, STEP is designed to provide secure housing that meets basic, life-sustaining, according to a presentation on the program.

Due to floodwaters, the county’s ability to respond quickly has been limited, reducing its ability to fully record all damage incurred.

The county is also calling on the National Guard, as well as any other resources available to assist in the “muck out” process, according to its letter addressed to the state. This process would reduce the presence of toxins at initial STEP assessments, the letter states.

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at

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