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Restoration of Pamlico County Middle School continues, three weeks after Hurricane Florence slammed into eastern North Carolina.

EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA – We have been hit again! Three mega Hurricanes in the span of just 15 years – Florence in 2018. Irene in 2011. Isabel in 2003.

Surely, we will grow weary. Surely, our spirit and faith will falter. Perhaps we should just give up!

Never!


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Yes, of course, some will move away. Who can blame them? We wish them well! The health and safety of one’s family is paramount! Storms elsewhere, including our own, are becoming more violent, more virulent. Yet, we persevere. We are a resilient bunch. The anguish, the effort, the guts, the determination, and even our stubborn nature. We’re Tar Heels, and those heels are going to stick to this lush, green earth. It’s the price we pay for living in paradise.

Pamlico praised for ‘incredible staff’

Though she lingered in devastating fashion, Florence eventually moved on. Then, area residents discovered that recovery efforts had already begun! On Page A-4, be sure to read the letter of commendation from the State Fire Marshal – documentation of the extraordinary courage and tireless effort expended by local emergency management officials.

Massive ‘double-barrel’ rigs, capable of hauling more than 100 cubic yards of debris, have become a familiar sight.

Nothing will be normal for months on end. But recovery should also include fun, sociable things to do. Less a few front porches, Oriental’s Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival has been set in stone for this weekend. See ad on Page B-16. All proceeds will go to Hurricane relief. Meanwhile Saturday in Aurora, be sure to enjoy National Fossil Day at the Aurora Fossil Museum – see ad on Page B-7.

Mosquito control, debris removal, rebuilding and remediation, FEMA, and how to pay for it all – that’s where our elected officials come in!

Monday night, Pamlico County Commissioner Carl Ollison told his colleagues on the seven-member board that the buildings and grounds of Pamlico County Middle School suffered damages far exceeding any potential remuneration from existing flood insurance.

“I met with Gov. Cooper when he was in the county,” said Ollison, “and told him that we would likely be $500,000 short on those repairs to the Middle School. I got the impression from him that the state would be able to do something to help us out.”

Aaron Everett (left), retired from the N.C. Department of Transportation, has been recruited by SEPI monitoring service to keep track of debris removal on a large site behind the old Arapahoe Elementary on Highway 306 where 4,000 cubic yards were received the first day.

Pamlico County Manager Tim Buck explained the ins and outs of debris removal. He said that Gov. Cooper’s executive order mandates that the Department of Transportation will pick up all storm-related vegetative debris – and later construction and demolition items – but only along state-maintained roads and highways.

If you live on a private road or in one of the county’s nine incorporated towns, contractors working on behalf of Pamlico County are scheduled to start work Monday, Oct. 8. Common goal – but two different debris removal initiatives going on at the same time. Residents in gated communities may be forced to fend for themselves, according to Buck, although details are not yet clear.

Buck also told elected officials that Pamlico County got the bottom of the totem pole from Cooper’s $4 million appropriation, earmarked for mosquito control.

“Of the 28 counties that comprise the disaster area, we got the least – just $11,100,” said Buck, adding that the county has already dipped into savings to ensure that the local mosquito control efforts will not run short.

“Whatever they’re spraying really seems to be working, throughout the county,” added Ollison, who hails from a local mosquito breeding ground known as Mesic!

In fact, Pamlico County coffers have already been hammered to the turn of more than $1 million, prompting Commissioner Paul Delamar III to remind the board that ample county savings come in handy during times of natural disasters.
“Fortunately, we are in a position to pay some of these bills because of our 40 percent (of annual expenses) fund balance,” said Delamar. “It allows us in times like this to manage these needs. I can remember after Hurricane Irene when the county manager asked us: ‘Do we continue picking up debris, or do we pay our staff?’”

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