SBA assesses flood damage in Chapel Hill, Carrboro

Jul. 09, 2013 @ 04:28 PM

Piles of garbage and other debris remain stacked outside of Camelot Village condominiums more than a week after flood waters swept through the community leaving wreckage in its wake.

Cody Pace, who rents one the of the second-floor condos spared in the storm, said Tuesday that the wet carpet, furniture, Sheetrock and rotten food is beginning to attract insects and vermin.
And the stench, especially on the hot days is becoming more than residents can bear, he said.
“They just need to get this trash out of here,” Pace said. “It’s drawing flies and everything.”
Pace made his comments shortly after county officials held a news conference at University Mall to explain the work of an assessment team from the U.S. Small Business Administration (USSBA) and N.C. Emergency Management that toured areas in Chapel Hill and Carrboro most heavily affected by flooding.
The team will determine whether there have been sufficient uninsured /underinsured losses to homes and/or businesses to request a USSBA Disaster Loan Declaration, offering low interest loans to qualified applicants.
Officials said it could take anywhere from several days to a couple of weeks before a decision can be made about the declaration.
“We will continue to work with the state Emergency Management and the governor’s office to make sure that this declaration, if it comes through, comes through in a timely manner,” said Darshan Patel, assistant chief of Orange County Emergency Management.
If the county gets the declaration, Patel said a request will also be made to the state Emergency Management director and the governor’s office for state grants to help residents who do not qualify for the SBA loans.
And while residents’ growing complaints about the garbage piling up is understandable, one official said the piles of trash strewn throughout the community aided the assessment team in its work on Tuesday.
“The more the SBA can see sitting by the road, the more they can see what kind of damage has occurred, said Phil Triplett, individual assistance program coordinator at N.C. Division of Emergency Management. “But, you don’t want to see it sitting there for a week or two.”
Town and county officials have agreed to help residents haul away large, bulky items, but Robert Bosworth, the town’s emergency management coordinator, said officials cannot begin to remove items until Camelot representatives properly separate the debris and sign a waiver giving them the authority to haul it away.
“We don’t want to throw someone’s prize possession away,” Bosworth said.
Meanwhile Brad Waycaster, who owns a condo in Camelot Village, was busy tossing ruined furniture and other items out of his home so that he could finish ripping out wet carpet and replacing ruined Sheetrock.
“I’m just trying to save some money,” Waycaster said, explaining why he decided to do the work himself instead of hiring someone.
On Monday, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt declared a state of emergency in Chapel Hill authorizing Town Manager Roger Stancil to take any “necessary actions to ensure the safety of life and property, including the opening of shelters if needed.”
Stancil is also authorized to “suspend, modify or require whatever regulations and fees” he deems appropriate in the interest of public safety.   
Last week, Red Cross volunteers closed an emergency shelter at Smith Middle School and moved to University Mall where they opened a new Disaster Service Center near Dillard’s department store.
More than 150 homes were affected by the storm and many families remain displaced while repairs are made and the cleanup continues.
Patel said the biggest challenge remains short-term housing options for those residents displaced by the flooding.
“Many of the residents who had condemned properties will be displaced from their homes until permits can be pulled and the appropriate work can be done to bring them back up to code,” Patel said.
Red Cross and Orange County Social Services made an appeal to properties owners in Orange and neighboring counties asking if they would consider allowing residents displaced to use those properties for short-term housing.
“From what I understand, we have had a decent response, although it’s still not enough,” Patel said. “We still need a significant amount of properties. Between both towns (Chapel Hill and Carrboro) we’ve condemned approximately 150 homes, which mean there are about 150 families that may need some temporary housing.” 
The area was hit by a storm that brought more than 5 inches of rain, flooded downtown Chapel Hill on West Franklin Street, parts of South Estes Drive (including Camelot Village and the parking lot at University Mall), East Gate Shopping Center, Booker Creek Apartments and Rocky Brook Mobile Home Park in southern Carrboro.

Need help?
Orange County is providing the public with the direct phone numbers for the Assistance Center at the University Mall in Chapel Hill.
Those who have been affected by the flood can receive assistance seven days a week by calling the following numbers:
(919) 903-0676;  (919) 903-0677; (919) 903-0678; (919) 903-0679
The Assistance Center is at 201S. Estes Drive inside the mall between Dillard’s and GNC.
It will remain open as long as needed. The public can use the Alfredo’s entrance for easier access.
The hours of operation are as follows:
Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Sunday from 1–6 p.m.