North Carolinians hit hard by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 brace for Florence

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — As Hurricane Florence gets closer to North Carolina, sisters Brie and Ashlyn Magee are starting to worry.

“Right now, we just aren’t really sure what to do,” Ashlyn Magee said.

They’re expecting the worst because they’ve lived this nightmare before. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew inundated their neighborhood. Nearby, a small dam burst and sent flood waters pouring in. Now Hurricane Florence is expected to deliver four months worth of rainfall in just three days.

Lumberton, 30 minutes south of Fayetteville, is where Matthew did its worst damage. The fear is that low-lying areas like this will be no match for Florence.

After Matthew, the city encouraged 600 flood-prone residents to apply for a federal flood relief program that would elevate or even buy out qualified homes. More than 200 families applied, but fewer than 25 were approved for buyouts, according to the city.

Al Miller’s application was denied last year.

“We got a letter saying, ‘Sorry, the money’s not there,'” he said.

His property floods routinely and he blames rapid development upstream of the creek that runs behind his Fayetteville house leaves that water nowhere to go. The Magees were rejected too, leaving their father Dave resigned to the fate of Florence.

“The first thing is just to make sure that we’re safe,” he said.

The city continues to meet with residents to find a solution. Most residents like Dave Magee will go to higher ground, but the frustration lingers.

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