Mayor: Damage from Florence tops nearly $220 million in New Hanover County

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said private property damage assessment show $219 million worth of damage from Hurricane Florence in New Hanover County with $38 million in the city of Wilmington.

Florence accrued more debris than any other storm in Wilmington’s history.

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But as clean up is underway, officials discussed how to improve the disaster plan across the area for the future.

Of the many concerns discussed, a few areas of improvement were addressed my multiple leaders including the inaccessible evacuation routes and how shelters were operated. I-95 and I-40 were shut down effectively cutting off Wilmington. A few officials expressed their concern with the transport of evacuees to differing shelters.

But, Kure Beach Mayor Craig Bloszinsky says he is thankful their were no reported injuries to helpers or citizens There was a hit to the pier with an estimated 150 structural damages. The biggest challenge, however, was not the storm surge.

“Our problem was the rain and storm debris getting to drain,” said Bloszinsky. “Keeping drains clean was a priority and saved quite a few of these structures in town.”

Saving structures and businesses was key to the storm preparation. Leaders say work is being done to discuss short term and long term plans for businesses and displaced families.

Hundreds of families who lost their homes or apartments still face the challenge of finding a place to live.

“We’re working with the convention center and visitor’s bureau, ” said Chamber of Commerce President Natalie English. “There reaching out to all hotels in the region to find out what room availability there is so we can house people. We are reaching out from the chamber to developers to apartment complex owners and anyone who might own a home that is not lived in.”

English says they are also searching for places for local businesses to go.

The recovery process is long but leaders hope to learn from what went wrong and what can be done in the future to better prepare for a natural disaster.