In Currie, a flooded house on Moores Creek near the Black River five days after Hurricane Florence struck the region. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

Post Hurricane Florence: Pender County N.C. attempts to clarify confusing letters about storm-damaged homes

Last week the county sent 461 letters to residents in the 100-year floodplain regarding a notice of "substantial damage determination", requiring homeowners to comply with flood damage-resistant provisions. One resident voiced his concerns (and confusion) of the main stipulation: his house needed to be elevated two feet above the base flood elevation (BFE).

Update 1 p.m. — This article has been updated to include a comment from FEMA spokesperson John Mills regarding the determination of a property’s market value.

BURGAW — When farmer Bill O’Brien received a letter from the county’s planning department late last week, he was informed that because his home had received substantial flood damage from Hurricane Florence, he would be required to “bring the building into compliance with the flood damage-resistant provisions” spelled out in a county ordinance.

“The most significant requirement is that the lowest floor, as defined by the Pender County Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance, must be elevated two feet above the regulated base flood elevation (BFE),” the letter stated. It was sent by the county’s floodplain administrator, Craig Harris.

His 2,700 square-foot, two-story home sits on 30 acres of land just northeast of Burgaw, and O’Brien said he built it on pilings less than a decade ago to ensure it was well above the Hurricane Floyd flood mark.

Related: Pender County planners mull coastal re-zonings and heightened floodplains regulations

“Now they’re telling us we have to raise it even more,” O’Brien said on Monday, adding that many of his neighbors received the letters as well and worried that their homes would need to be lifted, moved, or their properties bought out by the county.

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