7 years after hurricane damaged her home, Fayetteville woman finally able to move back in

Diane Wilson Image
Monday, January 29, 2024
NC woman finally moves back into home damaged by Hurricane Matthew
More than 2,700 families in North Carolina are still waiting for state help rebuilding their homes, some of which were damaged as far back as 2016.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- More than 2,700 families in North Carolina are still waiting for state help rebuilding their homes, some of which were damaged as far back as 2016.

ReBuild NC is a program in North Carolina, backed by federal dollars, that helps low-income homeowners fix or rebuild their hurricane-damaged homes. The program started after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and some homeowners are still awaiting repairs from that storm.

Over the years ABC11 Troubleshooter investigations exposed thousands of homeowners in the program who had to wait several years for help.

Susan Darnell is one of those homeowners. Hurricane Matthew caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to her Fayetteville area home in 2016. Now, more than seven years later, she has finally been able to move back home.

"It's a relief to me to come home," Darnell said. "It's been a long time."

SEE ALSO | Home warranty dispute leaves Wake Forest family without heat for months

A family in Wake Forest struggled for months to get American Home Shield to fix their heat. That all changed when the Troubleshooter stepped in.

She applied to the ReBuild NC program years ago. In 2021, ReBuild NC moved her out of her home so work could start, but more than two years after moving out, problems remained.

When Troubleshooter Diane Wilson first visited Darnell's home in the fall of 2023, she was not satisfied with the work being done.

"The work is not ... what it needs to be. It's half done and they're just putting a patch on everything and letting it go," Darnell said.

ReBuild NC sent Darnell a letter saying repairs to her home were finished and she could move back in. Darnell disagreed.

"Wasted taxpayer's money and that's exactly what it is. There's no sense in what ReBuild is doing," she said.

SEE ALSO | Garner tornado cleanup: How to protect your home and money from bad contractors

Homeowners in Garner are trying to rebuild after the tornado hit that area earlier this week.

She contacted Wilson and in October representatives with ReBuild NC said repair projects can be complex. In Darnell's case, her project underwent six change orders, and ReBuild NC expected it to be finished in a week.

Instead, it took more than two months and even more change orders.

Finally, Darnell was able to move back into her home for good after years of not being able to enjoy it.

"That was my goal, and ... if it hadn't been for you, it wouldn't have happened. I know that for a fact," she said.

Work is getting done for more homeowners in the program. According to ReBuild NC, it has completed an average of 64 homes per months over the past five months. There is still a lot of work to do; more than 2,700 families still have incomplete projects.

Below is the Homeowner Recovery Program data as of Jan. 24, 2024, from ReBuild NC:

  • 2,292 applicants in Step 1 (intake) through Step 6 (contract and bid work)
  • 1,711 families moved back into safer, more resilient homes
  • 458 projects currently in the construction phase, including 415 homes with work already underway