Hope for homeowners waiting years for help from state hurricane relief program

Diane Wilson Image
Friday, July 28, 2023
Hope for homeowners waiting years for state hurricane relief help
To date Rebuild NC has 1,295 families back home and 361 projects underway. Homeowners are overwhelmed with joy as they get their new homes.

There are new details in a Troubleshooter investigation into a state program spending millions of taxpayer dollars to help hurricane victims rebuild.

Over the last two years, Troubleshooter Diane Wilson has shown you the heartache these homeowners face thanks to Rebuild NC.

Thousands of homeowners still aren't back in their homes years after the state agreed to help, but now many of these homeowners who had no hope, are reaching out saying you have to see it to believe it.

'I'm just lost for words at times, it's overwhelming," said LaVonne Merritt as she looks at the construction of her new home. Once they started construction a little over six weeks ago, they have been very good with their workmanship, with the quality of work." Said Merritt.

This is work that Merritt waited a long time for it to begin. We met Merritt a year ago at the Wendell home she grew up in and lived in with her dad until he passed away. He died waiting for Rebuild to help after Hurricane Matthew damaged the home. Last summer Merritt said, "My daddy some of his last words to me was please get my house. Please get my house back."

After our investigations showed several homeowners in the same situation as Merritt, state lawmakers reached out to Merritt and she testified during legislative hearings on the lack of progress by Rebuild NC.

Rebuild NC and state leaders promised progress. Richard Trumper with the NC Department of Public Safety and Senior Advisor for Disaster Recovery says, "The last couple of months consistently we've been at or above fifty homes per month." Trumper adds they now have more general contractors tackling the projects. "We had twelve active GC's. We now have over fifty fully engaged GC's, and we're shooting for a number of GC's to one hundred as well."

To date Rebuild NC has 1,295 families back home and 361 projects underway. As for Merritt if construction continues as planned, she should be in her new home in the next few weeks. She adds, "I pray today that this house would be a blessing for not only my children. But for my children, children, and for generations to come. That's what my parents want it to be."

While Rebuild NC has made progress by completing about fifty new homes a month, their goal is to complete one hundred homes a month as they still have more than three thousand homeowners in the program waiting to get construction started.