In the aftermath of Florence, people rebuild homes days before work can begin

MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Work started July 31, having come to a rousing halt a week earlier. One sign was decorated with bright yellow, white and red foil, announcing that it would stop June 16. Work continued across town, though the same sign remained.

The sign on one Morrisville road read, “WE WILL HAVE WORK GOING ON NO LATER THAN 6 A.M. EVERY DAY FOR THE NEXT 9 MONTHS.”

“It makes me mad. So we’re having to rebuild all those homes,” says Butch Thomas, 35, whose home in Blue Gate is behind the markings. Thomas’s wife wants to build a bigger house next year but the cost has spiked. His home will cost $150,000 for the two of them.

Although the federal work is supposed to end, the local and state response is just beginning. Volunteers will go house-to-house, making house calls and clearing out debris. Morrisville and neighboring Gastonia have declared states of emergency, so individual property damage is covered by a federal program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

“I’m going to help a little girl that’s been down here since January,” says Flora Price, 35, who runs her flower business out of an RV in Gastonia. The surge in calls to her company, Best Floral Events, has helped make up some of the money she missed as a self-employed business owner because she only works 10 hours a week.

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