Thursday, December 1, 2022

Displacement in Pender County, Part Two: Idle FEMA trailers and county permits

Part two of a three-part series, examining the lasting damage Hurricane Florence has done to Pender County residents, three months after the storm caused major flooding.

PENDER COUNTY — Three months after Hurricane Florence caused widespread flooding in the region, many residents near the county’s rivers are still living in tents and camp trailers.

Port City Daily traveled with local activist Jennifer Witkowski, who recently founded the nonprofit Pender Strong, to get their stories.

Part Two of our video series takes you into the life of Burgaw resident C.J. Spencer, who explains the bureaucratic barriers she is now facing after her home was destroyed by floods after the hurricane. The most challenging: county permits, inspections, and a FEMA trailer that sits idle as she waits for the federal agency to hook it up to the electrical grid.

RELATED: Displacement in Pender County, Part One: ‘It’s all gone now’

Pender County spokesperson Tammy Proctor responded to multiple residents’ complaints about the stagnation they face in the building process.

“This is not our goal. This is a difficult time and we want our residents to return safely to their homes when possible. Safety is our number one priority,” Proctor said. 

Meanwhile, FEMA spokesperson Yvonne Smith said that 93 people in Pender County now have temporary housing units, “and that number is climbing every day.”

“We’re working around the clock to make sure families are housed in units. And we want to make sure those survivors get into those units as fast as possible,” Smith said.

She also urged displaced residents to call FEMA’s Raleigh office at 919-405-7228 for status updates on trailer arrivals and electrical hook-ups.

Part Three will take you into the life of a Pender County farm owner, spotlighting her own struggles with protecting her animals during the storm.

Mark Darrough can be reached at

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