New program may help Kinston homeowners still recovering from Hurricane Matthew

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KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - A year later, many homeowners are still seeking means of assistance in repairing damage that came from Hurricane Matthew's high winds, heavy rains and flood waters.

Now one Eastern Carolina community is asking its residents to apply for a new program that may help in some of those repairs.

The application is being sent to Kinston residents in their utility bills. The city says they're encouraging homeowners to take a closer look and apply, in a last ditch effort to help everyone recover from Hurricane Matthew.

Rick Vernon has walked through his yard for 33 years and he can remember the damage that comes from each hurricane, most recently Hurricane Matthew.

"This particular storm, we had 15 inches under the house," he says.

Luckily Vernon is insured and his $11,000 worth of damage was covered, but back during Hurricane Floyd, he says he wasn't covered.

"In this home in '99, it did over $40,000 worth of damage." he explains.

Now Vernon says he looks at a pile of debris behind his home left from Matthew with ease, knowing that his insurance and FEMA helped him repair.

The city of Kinston says with a new application, those who are uninsured now have another means to try to get help.

"This program is for all the city and zoning jurisdiction, so even properties that were damaged outside of the flood plain are eligible," explains Adam Short, Kinston's city planner.

Eligible for funding through the Essential Single Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool sponsored by the NC Housing Finance Agency, which will give out forgiven loans.

The city says it's a last ditch effort to get everyone help.

"One thing we wanted to avoid was having properties that were being bought out also having them apply for this program," Short says.

Lenoir County Emergency Management says that the majority of homes that applied for a buyout have received word back.

That leaves homes that didn't quality for a buyout to possibly quality for the loan pool.

"So if you're in the floodplain, that's one of the priorities that we have, but that's not to say that if you're outside the floodplain you can still qualify," Short says.

The city says the program will cover up to $40,000 in damages or up to 50 percent of the estimated replacement value for the damaged structure, whichever is less.

Short says applications are due back on November 7th and he says once the applications are received by the state, there is no set timeline for when money will be granted to homeowners.