Fayetteville wiser, watchful on heels of recent natural disasters

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The past several years have not been kind to Fayetteville when it comes to natural disasters.

Those words ring true for local business owner William Milbourne, who has seen his fair share of destruction.

"It was devastating. I mean, it really was. Again, we didn't really know how we were going to make it," Milbourne said.

In 2012, Milbourne's business was ripped apart by a tornado. After opening back up in a different location, his buy, sell, and trade store was hit by Hurricane Florence.

"It peeled the roof off the building. We had to replace the roof. That set us back quite a bit," Milbourne said.

With Florence and Matthew in the back of some locals' minds, it's a stark reminder of the threat that looms during hurricane season.

"It's devastating. I mean some of them had to start over, especially the folks down in the Lumberton area," Milbourne said.

It's a threat that is always on the mind of the Fayetteville Fire Department.

According to city officials, they have a 42-member team put together thanks to several departments.

Scott Bullard, the Fayetteville Emergency Management Coordinator, said that team is constantly out on the waters training and preparing for the next disaster.

The manpower also includes some tools that are key for water rescues: up-to-date inflatable boats, motors, night-vision goggles, and other pieces of equipment.

Both the fire department and Milbourne said they've learned from experience.

"We've increased our insurances for those types of events and made little changes to make sure we don't get hit as hard as we did," said Milbourne.

Despite the setbacks, Milbourne said they have pushed forward "thanks to the grace of God and the support of my family and friends."

Bullard said little can be done to prevent the kind of flooding that can occur. He and the city encourage residents to be vigilant and prepared.

"If it was to happen again, in all honesty ... I probably would leave this time," Milbourne said.

Click here for tips on how to stay prepared during hurricane season.
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