US Labor, HUD secretaries get first-hand look at Florence impact in Wilmington

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two members of President Trump’s cabinet came to Wilmington Monday to get a first-hand look at the impacts of Hurricane Florence.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta joined senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr and Rep. David Rouzer.

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“We like to go around and see things for ourselves,” said Carson. “First of all, to make sure that people understand that those of us in the government are just like you. We just happen to be doing this but, we are the same as anyone else.”

Sen. Thom Tillis joined the discussion and said this is the first time he can give state and local government all “A’s” for their effort in their response.

Carson also visited the Eastbrook Housing Complex and the FEMA joint field office for a briefing on the recovery efforts. Labor Secretary Acosta says FEMA aid is still available.
Rouzer says, if you’re denied, it’s not the end.

“Continue to apply because your circumstance today may be very different then when you originally applied so, FEMA doesn’t look at the first denial as an endpoint,” said Rep. Rouzer.

After Florence, $1.14 billion was appropriated to support North Carolina recovery efforts.
Sen. Tillis says, based on past disasters, this is only one-third of what they expect the area will need.

Their first stop Monday morning was Best Buy in Wilmington, which is still closed more than a month after the storm.

They came to congratulate the hardworking Best Buy employees who kept working despite their closed doors. The company is paying their employees to volunteer with charities to help others recover.

“We said ‘Hey look’ we need everyone to look for volunteer opportunities and if you find one then make everyone else aware of it so we can all get to places and help out with people who are in need,” said Best Buy General Manager Dale Marshall.  “So, when I did that, my phone blew up with text messages of people all over the city who had found things to do.”

Rep. Rouzer said these 125 employees are a community example.

The store did suffer from some flood damage. The store manager said, fortunately, all products that were damaged in the store were shipped out for service.

Best Buy’s general manager said, since the store opened in 2001, this is the first time a disaster has closed its doors for such an extended period.

The store plans to re-open by Thanksgiving, just in time for big time holiday shopping.