POLK Co., NC (WSPA) – In many areas of western North Carolina, cleanup is just getting started.
“We’re just helping the neighbors here get their yards clean and get them in a spot where they can get everything back together,” volunteer Joe Kaye told 7 News on Wednesday.
Kaye was in Polk County working alongside several members of the non-profit, Team Rubicon.
“I’ve never seen in my personal life or professional life this amount of mud move in a mudslide here in the state.”
After severe storms ripped through several counties in Western North Carolina, homeowners were left with serious damage.
Homeowner Sal Tine explained that when the mudslides started, he had what looked like two rivers flowing through his yard.
“It just kind of seeped into the garage areas and stuff like that, and I just basically have to bleach it all down,” he explained.
Several of his neighbors homes in Polk County were left destroyed and one woman across the street lost her life, according to Tine. They were llosses that the native New Yorker said are draining the neighborhood emotionally and financially.
“I just don’t know what anybody is going to do. We can’t go nowhere, we can’t afford to go nowhere that’s for sure.”
Many in the area hope Polk County and other hard-hit places will get financial help from officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which gives disaster relief aid.
If the state qualifies, homeowners who sign up can receive assistance if their home is deemed unsafe, unsanitary or not secure. In other words, according to FEMA representatives, the home must be deemed unlivable.
According to the N.C. Division of Emergency Management, there are about 25 homes in Polk County that could qualify, due to damage from the mudslides. They are now working to figure out how many homes damaged from Tropical Storm Alberto could be added to that number.
“Please take a look and please remember that we’re people too and we’re hurting too,” said Tine. “And envision if you had to live here and had to put it back together…”
The state’s Emergency Management Division told 7 News that FEMA would be out surveying homes, roads and bridges for the remainder of the week.
They hope to complete assessments by next week to determine if communities qualify.