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A month after Hurricane Florence dumped more than 30 inches of rain on the Carolinas, Hurricane Michael delivered additional flash flooding, power outages and wind damage.

While the construction-related impact of Hurricane Michael is still being assessed (stay tuned for more on that front in the coming weeks), Moody’s Analytics estimates total property damage from Florence at $17 billion to $22 billion, factoring in losses from homes, roads, crops, livestock, coal ash ponds and more.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint which counties were hit the hardest, the majority of the damage was in the eastern coastal areas of North Carolina. According to Rob Beale, a vice president in W.M. Jordan’s Wilmington, North Carolina, office, Carteret and Onslow counties took the brunt of the storm, while Columbus and Brunswick counties experienced the biggest flooding impact.

“We saw the second highest recorded water levels in history—eclipsed from last year in Hurricane Matthew—and we saw the second highest wind ever recorded. That combination created a lot of damage,” Beale says.

“I would say 50 percent of residential areas had substantial damage. A lot of building damage hasn’t been completely assessed, but 80 percent should be cleaned up in the next month,” he adds.

The DOT approved emergency funds in September—an initial $14 million for North Carolina and $8 million for South Carolina—and the recently passed FAA reauthorization bill includes $1.68 billion for post-Florence disaster relief in the form of HUD Community Block grants.

At the state level, the North Carolina legislature voted to use $57 million from the state’s $2 billion reserve to match federal disaster assistance programs. And locally, the city council in Wilmington, North Carolina—which sustained around $220 million in private property damage and $1.8 million in public property damage—approved $9 million for ongoing recovery efforts.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) also directed $25 million from the N.C. Education Lottery Fund to help repair schools damaged by Florence. As of early October, more than 130 North Carolina schools were still not operating, affecting at least 90,000 students.

“Schools are the number one priority right now. Everyone is working around the clock to get the schools back up and running, but we’re about a month away from that happening” Beale says, noting that Brunswick County students went back Oct. 4.

Having to pull workers onto urgent school projects puts additional stress on an already tight labor market and the timelines of other jobs in progress.

“We lost two weeks in production during the storm due to evacuating and flooding, but we also lost two weeks in cleanup and getting people back to each project,” Beale says. “Everyone has worked diligently to get projects back up to speed, but there’s only so much manpower in a given area. There’s nowhere for employees to stay because hotels are full from people being relocated from their homes. It’s safe to say we lost a month on most projects in the eastern part of the state.”


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