North Carolina Newspapers

    4
Friday, September 15, 2000
HUNT
From Page 1
spend their nights in cramped shelters.
Tens of thousands of homes and busi
nesses were submerged under the
swirling fioodwaters for two days to two
weeks.
When the waters finally receded,
flooding from Floyd had claimed 52
lives and left damage exceeding $6 bil
lion, prompting President Clinton to
name the eastern two-thirds of the state
a federal disaster area.
Floyd would be remembered as the
worst natural disaster in the state’s his
tory -a catastrophe with which state
officials are still wrestling.
Throughout this week, Gov. Jim
Hunt has toured flood-damaged com
munities, businesses and farms in east
ern North Carolina, discussing the
state’s emergency response during
Floyd and what remains to be done for
the region to recover fully.
But recovering from Floyd could take
a decade, some state officials say.
Hunt and his executive cabinet gath
ered Monday at the Pitt County
Agriculture Auditorium to meet and talk
with flood volunteers and victims.
Most of the people participating in
the forum praised the state’s response,
telling story after story about how state
grants enabled them to rebuild or repair
their homes or businesses.
N.C. officials say federal and state
agencies have contributed more than $4
billion to the recovery effort, SBOO mil
lion of which came from the state’s cof-
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Nearly 67,000 donors gave a total sl9
million to the N.C. Hurricane Floyd
Disaster Relief Fund.
But Judy Cromer, volunteer coordi
nator for Pender County and panelist at
the discussion, said people contributed
sweat and time as well as money.
“The most impressive aspect (of the
recovery) doesn’t come with dollar
signs,” Cromer said. “One church group
served 960,000 meals to volunteers, gut
ted 200 homes and restored 100 others.”
Pactolus resident Sue Beachem and
her family was one of 50,000 families
whose homes were repaired thanks to a
grant or low-interest loan.
She said the unifying effect Floyd had
on the community made the recovery
effort far easier.
“I’ve stood in line with people who
made $250,000 and people who made
$20,000 a year,” she said. “We all
worked together. We were a family.”
But the feelings of accomplishment
and goodwill from the forum partici
pants did not take hold in some of the
audience members.
Mary Williams of Greenville stood
up and addressed Hunt, claiming state
officials had neglected her.
“My family lost everything we had
during the flood,” she said. “Families
like ours were forced to take the (Small
Business Administration) loan to get in
our homes and are now in debt and
struggling to stay home.”
Following the flood, the SBA offered
low-interest loans to 8,888 N.C. families
seeking to repair their homes.
Williams, who declined to put a dol
lar amount on her loan, said she was
forced to remortgage her home to pay
for repairs and the loan.
“I don’t expect to be back to 100 per
cent,” she said. “But it seems to me that
my family worked hard, paid taxes and
were punished for it”
Hunt started to say, “I understand,”
but Williams interrupted him.
“Nobody don’t understand,” she said,
her voice cracking with emotion.
Williams, seemingly admitting defeat,
sat back down and then left the room a
few minutes later.
Hunt then moved on to other testi
monials, emphasizing the need for state
officials to help every citizen \yho
requires it.
“We’ve seen examples of frustration
and heartache,” he said. “I wish we
could fix it all. We can’t, but we’ve got to
fix all we can.”
After the meeting, a small crowd of
state officials swooped down upon
Williams, offering her phone numbers
and promises of aid.
But Williams said she was not sure
what would come from the meeting.
“I’ve seen these meetings before,” she
said. “They talk about helping, but they
only help certain groups, like farmers.”
Williams, who e-mailed Clinton on
Mothers’ Day begging for aid and
received a formulaic reply, said she did
not know if Hunt would act differendy.
“Maybe he’ll listen," she said. “Maybe
he heard. I don’t know; but I do know
I need help.”
The State & National Editor can be
reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.
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News
Bush, Gore Agree to Debates
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Republican
George W. Bush, giving in after a two
week batde over debates, agreed
Thursday to Democrat A1 Gore’s
demand that they meet in three prime
time confrontations - including one at
Wake Forest University - sponsored by
a bipartisan panel. The running) mates
will debate once.
Americans will see Bush and Gore go
head to head on television Oct. 3 in
Boston, Oct. 11 in Winston-Salem, and
Oct. 17 in St. Louis, with each debate
lasting 90 minutes, according to the
agreement reached Thursday. Format
VOLUNTEERS
From Page 1
daily focused on “rip and strip” efforts of
removing destroyed property and sal
vaging what they could. But he said
reconstruction and rebuilding jobs are
now a priority.
The center also served as a central
coordinator for schools, departments and
organizations that prepared projects
according to areas of expertise. “(The cen
ter) did so much for so many communi
ties,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Rosemary
Waldorf. “They are absolutely here for
organization and pulling in manpower.”
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details still must be worked out
The deal marked Bush’s acceptance
of the schedule proposed by the
Commission on Presidential Debates.
He had previously balked at following
the commission’s recommendations,
pushing for less formal debates on TV
talk shows, but relented under pressure
to put the distraction behind him.
The agreement was announced by
Bush campaign Chairman Don Evans
and his Democratic counterpart, Gore
campaign Chairman William Daley,
after their first joint meeting with the
debate commission. “We’ve made great
progress,” said Daley. “The American
people want to hear from these people.”
But students also channeled their vol
unteer efforts through other agencies.
Campus Y Assistant Director Chimi
Boyd said many students viewed the sit
uation as an opportunity to help, citing
a trip by a Campus Y service committee
in October and a book drive by the lit
eracy committee as particular successes.
“The students were really enthusiastic,
and it seemed to open their eyes about
how bad the flood really was,” she said.
Waldorf said UNC’s work inspired the
town of Chapel Hill to make its own
attempts at helping those in need.
She said police officers and other emer
gency officials were sent to stricken parts
of the state. Later, the town of Chapel Hill
adopted the town of Speed and is still
working to rebuild that community.
Public service center Director Nick
Didow said efforts died down somewhat
after the initial push, but several groups
are still actively planning to lend a hand.
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The vice presidential candidates,
Democrat Joe Lieberman and
Republican Dick Cheney, will debate
OcL 5 in Danville, Ky.
The negotiations ended a standoff
lasting several weeks in which Bush held
out for doing only one debate sponsored
by the commission and several less for
mal matchups in other venues, such as
one on a special edition of NBC’s “Meet
the Press” and another on CNN’s
“Larry King Live.”
The way the three presidential
debates will be conducted was still
unsettled but commission leaders said
they expected the campaigns to resolve
the details within two days.
Faculty and staff participating in the
annual Tar Heel Bus Tour program in
May had the opportunity to visit the
towns of Griffon and Tick Bite, which
were devastated by flooding. A reunion
is planned for Saturday, which Didow
said will send about 30 volunteers back
to those towns for a day of work.
“This is a purposeful return on behalf
of the faculty and staff, purposeful to
underscore the commitment of the
University to the people of the state.”
Waldorf said she thought volunteer
efforts were inspired by people’s person
al senses of compassion and would ensure
involvement until the towns were rebuilt
“It’s not OK for people in Chapel Hill
to do nothing just because we were spared
- we have to do something, and we have
to do our best to make a difference.”
The University Editor can be reached
at udesk@unc.edu.
    

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