CHAPEL HILL — Federal and state money is on the way for local residents and businesses still recovering from June’s flash flooding.
The money will come at a critical time in Orange County’s recovery effort. Housing is in short supply for the dozens of households displaced by the storm, officials said, and property repair and renovations are underway.
The U.S. Small Business Administration decided last week that Orange County’s damage qualifies for federal, low-interest loans to residents, businesses and nonprofits. The SBA also included Chatham, Durham, Person, Caswell and Alamance counties to ensure those on the fringes of the declared disaster area can get help, state officials said.
Those who don’t qualify for SBA loans will be able to apply for state grant money, but they must apply for a loan first. The SBA and N.C. Emergency Management opened a loan outreach center Friday in University Mall to help people apply. It will remain open through July 25.
At least 150 households in Chapel Hill and Carrboro were damaged or condemned after the June 30 storm dumped more than 5 inches of rain on the area in a few hours.
While the county has received calls about two- and three-bedroom rentals for some flood victims, the real need is for one-bedroom units, said Tara Fikes, director of the Housing, Human Services and Community Development Department. American Red Cross money for hotel rooms has run out for some families; others are still relying on family and friends. Anyone with vacant housing should call 919-245-2490.
Property owners said a few residents plan to move back home and help rebuild.
Charles Biggs, who owns the Rocky Brook Mobile Home Park property, said Carrboro town inspectors are working with trailer owners to plan repairs and cut the number of condemned trailers to roughly a dozen. N.C. Department of Transportation officials will study a culvert under N.C. 54 that clogged and made the flooding worse, he said.
“We’re going to continue to make it as safe as we can,” he said.
Camelot Village Condominiums on Estes Drive had some of the worst damage, with water 4 feet deep in many condos. Property manager Joel Duvall hired three recovery companies to remove carpets, drywall and other fixtures after 68 of the 116 units were condemned. The complex was insured, but reconstruction could take a few months.
Duvall also hired workers to clean up personal belongings that renters left behind. The men said the work is slow, because they are sorting the trash and recyclables by hand.
The cleanup effort is further complicated by questions of responsibility, Duvall and others said. Residents normally would remove their property, but the flooding didn’t leave much worth salvaging. Most of the 80 owners live out of town, and Duvall said the Camelot Village Homeowners Association insurance doesn’t pay to clean up personal property.
Two weeks after the flood, 5-foot mounds of debris, mattresses and furniture surrounded several buildings. A resident who still lives there asked the town for help.
The town’s policy doesn’t let public workers clean up private property, said Deputy Fire Chief Robert Bosworth, the town’s emergency coordinator. But they met with Duvall and agreed to help. They brought in extra Dumpsters and assigned a truck and driver to make daily runs to a Durham transfer station and the county’s recycling facility.
Bosworth said the town only made an exception after signing a liability agreement with the Camelot Village HOA and because of concerns the debris could be washed into the creek, bringing more flooding. Camelot Village will be responsible for any damage from using town equipment and have someone on-site make sure private property isn’t removed by mistake, he said.
The work will take some time, but the town hasn’t forgotten about the residents, he said.
“We do feel for those residents that are still living there (with the) bugs and smells,” he said.