I-Team: One month after Florence, payouts top $1 billion - and counting

Friday, October 19, 2018
A month after Florence, payouts top $1 billion
A month after Florence, payouts top $1 billion.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- From Cumberland County to the coast, the disaster of Hurricane Florence continues to affect North Carolina families.

To date, state and federal officials tell ABC11 that more than $1 billion has already been paid out through private insurance claims and grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The ABC11 I-Team has been following two families on their roads to recovery, highlighting the physical work and emotional strength to rebuild their lives from the storm's devastation.

One family, the Gaddys, are depending on their renters insurance to keep them afloat as they move into a new home. After spending five nights in a Red Cross shelter, Maurice and Carrie Gaddy, along with the five children, stayed at a hotel for three weeks.

"It's been stressful," Maurice told ABC11. "We want to do the best for our kids."

Fortunately, the Gaddys found a new home to rent just this week; insurance coverage also provided storage pods for the move. The new home - high on a hill - is stuffed with boxes with barely a few paths to maneuver, but they're not about to complain.

"It was a struggle, but now that we received a roof over our heads, a nice place, warm place, cool place to stay, it is God-sent to cook a home-cooked meal," Maurice said.

According to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, hurricane victims filed more than 282,000 claims through nearly 200 insurance entities.

Nearly five weeks after the storm, 65,000 claims were paid, totaling $540 million, with an addition $1.2 billion potentially on the way for the remaining claims.

The data shared with the I-Team also shows more than half of claims were filed through homeowners or renters insurance; approximately 25 percent were in flood insurance, and 20 percent commercial properties and auto insurance.

While the Gaddys were fortunate to have renters insurance, Chauncey and Sharon Payne are relying on a $10,000 grant they received from FEMA.

"The money came quick and I was surprised when it was in my account," Chauncey Payne said. "It's a start. It gives me hope."

The Paynes' home in Fayetteville has been stripped down to its studs - again - a process they know well after the flooding brought by Hurricane Matthew.

"If I can get the kitchen and bedroom done, I can live in this house again and work with what's left with whatever money I got," Chauncey said.

FEMA officials are reporting more than $507 million in relief to North Carolina families, including $214 million in flood insurance payments, $102 million in grants for uninsured damages, and $191 million in loans from the Small Business Administration.

FEMA still has Disaster Recovery Centers open in 19 counties, where survivors can meet face-to-face with FEMA, the State, SBA and other organizations providing assistance.