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Fishermen say ‘hurt’ from hurricane hard to measure

SNEADS FERRY — Millis Seafood owner Tim Millis has been working in the commercial fishing industry for more the 60 years and remembers the devastation of Hurricane Hazel. Hazel left a path of destruction from wind and storm surge that residents weren’t prepared for in the days before the warning systems that are in place today.

Hurricane Florence, he said, was different.

“Others came in and were gone. This one stayed longer, pouring all that rain,” Millis said.

Hurricane Fran in 1996 brought the most high water from the tide, he recalls, but that was saltwater coming in. It’s the rush of all the fresh water from the days of non-stop rain that was so damaging with Florence, which hit Eastern North Carolina in September as a Category 1 hurricane.

“All the water did all the damage,” Millis said.

There were few fisheries not impacted.

“(The storm) hurt clamming, oysters, fish, shrimp; all of it,” Millis said.

On Feb. 1, Cooper announced that the first round of hurricane assistance checks was mailed out under the Hurricane Florence Commercial Fishing Assistance Program.

There were 644 check totaling $3.2 million to help compensate fishermen for income losses from September due to the hurricane as documented by state harvest records, a news release from Cooper’s office said.

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