Tens of thousands of people in North Carolina are starting to tally the damage from Hurricane Florence.
Early estimates show the storm caused as much as $22 billion in destruction, making it one of the 10 most costly hurricanes in U.S. history.
Evacuees are starting to return home only to find a community still devastated by the storm. Stores are still boarded up and some businesses like this gas station have been heavily damaged. Thousands are still in shelters there and the cleanup could take weeks, a full recovery much longer.
Crystal Brewer and her son rode out the storm surviving on only bread and water. When they arrived at a Wilmington distribution center, it was their first real meal in more than four days. She said her house is underwater, and will be for a while.
Asked about her hope right now, she said, “That Wilmington gets back to normal. People are trying to kill each other around here.”
The once-sprawling city of 120,000 is now littered with downed trees, broken glass and boarded up storefronts. Distribution centers are providing meals and water after floods largely cut the city off from the rest of the state for almost four days.
“A lot of people had lost everything. They had to be evacuated so quickly that they didn’t have time to take anything,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. He fears the worst flooding is yet to come and is working to provide temporary housing for those in need.
Cooper said North Carolina is getting the help it needs from the federal government and the state legislature.
“Right now we are….We’re trying to rebuild businesses and roads and bridges and infrastructure and get people back into their homes. That will be a challenge and we’re going to ask everybody to step up,” Cooper said.
But residents like Dennis Hixson are confident a sense of normalcy will come back.
“We’ll be Wilmington strong. Believe me, they’ll see. We’ll come back. You can count on that,” Hixson said.
On Tuesday, one Wilmington distribution center served 100 people per hour, handing out about 15,000 bottles of water and 8,000 meals. People there say us one of the biggest needs is ice for food refrigeration and insulin preservation.