Gov. Cooper faces unhappy crowd during Pender County visit


PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Gov. Roy Cooper was met by an unhappy crowd Thursday afternoon during a tour of areas recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Residents of the Whitestocking neighborhood in Burgaw want to know when they will finally get some assistance.

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“They said, after the TV crews leave, and the Red Cross leave, you going to feel like you’ve been forgotten about,” Reggie Powell, resident impacted by storm, said. “That’s what it feels like.”

“It’s good the governor is here in the Whitestocking community in Pender County,” Pender County NAACP President Dante Murphy said. “But at the end of the day, a whole lot of romance without finance. I just don’t get it.”

Gov. Cooper toured a temporarily repaired bridge on US 421 before visiting a house currently under repair in Rocky Point.

After that, he headed to Sand Hill AME Church on Whitestocking Road in Burgaw, which has been used as a distribution center.

Bill Raber and Rae Riley helped start another distribution center nearby on NC 53. They say most of the people volunteering there are victims themselves.

“They’re homeless,” Riley said. “They still come out here and run these distribution centers.”

Powell lived across the street from the church before Florence hit. Now, he does not have a place to live.

“In my car sometimes, with my sister sometimes, with somebody else. Bouncing around,” Powell said.

Residents say part of the problem is strict rules by FEMA about where trailers can be placed.

“They can’t get a camper from FEMA cause they live in a floodplain,” Raber said. “They want them to go to a camp that’s 30-40 miles from here. But this is their home.”

They say for those who do qualify for a camper the county makes it difficult to even use them.

“It’s a slap in the face to these people that have FEMA trailers sitting on their property, but because of Pender County’s rules and regulations, they can’t get the keys,” Riley said.

People asked the governor what was being done about getting more FEMA trailers to those in need and some were frustrated that he had no microphone and was difficult to hear in the large crowd.

“I asked the governor, we all know that these people are not going to be in their houses before Christmas,” Riley said. “Everybody knows that nobody’s begging for that. But we are begging for FEMA and Pender County to please let them be in these campers before Christmas. Let these families be together.”

Earlier in the day, Governor Cooper said “it’s critical that debris removal occur and that people get temporary housing, and that we begin the process for permanent affordable housing for people.”