When Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina in 2018, the Trent River rose roughly 25 feet, and flooded nearly 75 homes in Pollocksville, closing businesses and causing the sewer pump stations.
The Pollocksville Town Hall was almost fully submerged.
Two years ago, in April of 2020, the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) provided a $1.6 million zero-interest loan, which was used to help fund the Pollocksville town hall restoration.
“The successful partnership established here will serve as a model for future collaboration with other storm-impacted communities,” she added.
Now, on June 15, 2022, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper attended the Pollocksville Town Hall Rededication Ceremony to celebrate the ongoing recovery and revitalization of Pollocksville.
“The story of this building is the story of Pollocksville itself-one of recovery and resilience,” Governor Cooper said.
“Thousands of homes and hundreds of public buildings, roads and bridges have been rebuilt in smarter, stronger ways since Hurricanes Florence and Matthew, but there is still so much to be done. I’m grateful to see the continued determination by communities like this across North Carolina and we will to continue to make their complete recovery a priority,” he added.
That loan also covered disaster-related expenses while the town waited for reimbursement from federal recovery programs. NCORR also awarded a $500,000 grant to help cover the town’s non-disaster-related operating expenses.
“We are honored to have Governor Cooper in Pollocksville, not only to help us rededicate our historic and restored town hall/train station, but to see firsthand the recovery efforts completed and in progress. The Governor visited Pollocksville two weeks after Hurricane Florence and witnessed our situation,” said Jay Bender, Mayor of Pollocksville.
“We are excited to show him what has been accomplished as well as our future plans for responsible and resilient recovery and growth, and to thank him and the many agencies and departments in his administration for the support,” he continued.
The NCORR Strategic Buyout Program began taking applications in Pollocksville in April 2022. The program provides eligible property owners located in areas that are prone to repeated flooding the opportunity to sell their property and relocate to safer land.
“When Hurricane Florence hit in 2018 it pummeled eastern North Carolina for several days. The significant rainfall caused the Trent River to rise and submerge the Town of Pollocksville in nearly 20 feet of water, damaging buildings and drastically impacting many lives,” explained Will Ray, Director of North Carolina Emergency Management.
“The rededication of Town Hall is symbol of the resilience of Pollocksville and the people that live there. On behalf of the Department of Public Safety and Division of Emergency Management, we applaud their recovery efforts and are thankful for the partnership with both the Town and County in serving all North Carolinians,” he continued.
Since the flood, a collaborative process between local officials, NCORR, NC State University’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab and members of the community has helped identify which properties should be eligible for buyout.
“Repair or replacement of public infrastructure is critical to recovery from a major disaster,” said Kasey Ginsburg, Director of Public Affairs at the Golden LEAF Foundation.
“The Town of Pollocksville demonstrated strong leadership by not only restoring their flood-damaged historic town hall, but relocating the building to a higher elevation to ensure a more resilient future. Golden LEAF is honored to provide funding to support this project,” she added.
The Golden LEAF Foundation works to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation and stewardship.
In addition to the Strategic Buyout Program, there are currently 17 Pollocksville homeowners participating in the Homeowner Recovery Program.
In total, state partners have repaired or rebuilt more than 10,000 homes in North Carolina since Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.
All images courtesy of the Town of Pollocksville.