At Christmas, tough choices face families affected by Hurricane Matthew

Thursday, December 22, 2016
Coping with Hurricane Matthew -- and Christmas
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Some face a choice between buying gifts or repairing their homes.

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Deck the halls is taking on a new meaning in Habitat Village this Christmas. The neighborhood was nearly washed away by Hurricane Matthew leaving many families with the choice of whether to rebuild or give their families the Christmas that they are used to.

Darnell Simmons has lived in his home on Montgomery Avenue for years. Just four weeks after the hurricane hit, Gov. Pat McCrory visited his family to let them know that help was on the way.

But even with assistance from FEMA, Simmons said it wasn't enough to cover the cost of a complete rebuild. That's why he hired a private contractor to make sure that he and his family return home sooner than later.

Simmons tells ABC11 that choosing between buying gifts for his family and rebuilding their home was the hardest decision he ever had to make

"It's been very hard. I'd like to get something for my wife and I can't even do that. The money that I had was going back to our home and we still don't have enough to get the house back together right now. So it's going to be very difficult"

In the meantime, the only Christmas tree on the street stands on the porch of Darnell Simmons's home. He said it is a daily reminder of the joy and the reason for the season.

The Simmons home is set to be complete January 9.

"We'll be back in our home, that will be the main thing," Simmons said.