FAYETTEVILLE, N.C (WTVD) -- Despite the sunshine, the aftermath of Hurricane Florence is a dark reality for hundreds of Cumberland County families unable to return to their homes.
On Thursday, officials lifted several evacuation orders for communities along the Little River and Cape Fear River, but Red Cross personnel confirmed to ABC11 that more than 650 evacuees remained in eight shelters. The number, while significantly less than the peak of 1,300 people in shelters earlier this week, is still a stark reminder of the lengthy process awaiting many North Carolina residents after the historic storm.
"We're standing on prayers, standing on faith," Maurice Gaddy, whose home flooded in the storm, told ABC11. "We're just waiting. We're not standing around, but we're waiting and we're digging and trying to get a way out of this."
Gaddy and his wife, Carrie, first arrived at the Red Cross shelter at Fayetteville's Smith Recreation Center last Saturday.
"We want something healthy for our children," he added. "We want to live too, but we've mainly worried about our kids and where they're going to go."
All shelters are offering additional assistance from county social services and other community resources, but caseworkers from FEMA will not arrive in the Fayetteville area until next week.
"People want to get back to work, they want to get back to normal," Sarah Hallock, Executive Director of Cumberland County Communicare, told ABC11. "Unfortunately it's just going to take time. We have to acknowledge that."
Hallock maintains that families must also be cognizant of the emotional toll of the storm and urges victims to rebuild broken spirits.
"The trauma and the pain they've been through, they're going to continue dealing with the displacement and anxiety," she said.
Anyone with a home damaged by Hurricane Florence can begin the FEMA registration process by calling (800) 621-FEMA or by visiting disasterassistance.gov to register online.