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Bertie crop losses exceed $3 million

WINDSOR – Bertie County leaders started to get a picture on Thursday afternoon of exactly how bad damage from last week’s flooding.

The Bertie County Board of Commissioners heard reports from various organizations as they learned how much crop damage is in the county and received preliminary information on structural damage.

The only definitive numbers thus far are those on the crop loss estimates for the county.

Bertie County Extension Director Richard Rhodes told the board that current estimates show the crop loss at $3,267,500.

The major hit came in cotton lint where damages are estimated to be $1.56 million.

“The bulk of the damage in cotton lint comes from degradation of the cotton,” he said.

In addition to the cotton lint, county farmers expect to lose nearly $500,000 in cotton seed.

Tobacco losses are estimated at $600,000 with soybeans targeted at $175,000 and peanuts at $150,000.

Additionally, the county lost $15,000 woth of hot peppers.

Rhodes said one number that is purely estimated is poultry. The current damage is projected at $280,000.

While crop damages are more firm in their estimates, Bertie Emergency Management Coordinator Rickey Freeman said property estimates for the county would probably not be known until a later time.

As of last count, however, Freeman said 54 homes or structures in the county had received major damage, 25 suffered minor damage and six were totally destroyed.

Freeman also said while the bulk of the damage was in Windsor, but there were also structural damage in Colerain, Aulander, Lewiston Woodville and outlying areas in the county.

He said water stood in buildings from six inches to five feet and told the board teams from the state had been working to get preliminary damage estimates.

The board also received an update from Assistant County Manager Morris Rascoe concerning damage to buildings owned by the county.

As previously reported, the Lawrence Memorial Library building was completely flooded and work has begun to clean it up. Rascoe said the county would have to visit the issue of what to do with the building long term at a later date.

Rascoe also said leaks at the Day Reporting Center and Probation and Parole Office had caused major issues inside the building. He said work was under way to fix the inside of the building, but the roof had to be repaired or it would just happen again.

Commissioner Rick Harrell said work on the building should stop until an estimate could be approved for the roof.

“I believe we can have you that information by your meeting on Monday,” Rascoe told the board.

Harrell suggested the work inside the building stop and have the contractor come up with a temporary solution for the roof until a new roof could be put on the building. The board agreed and directed Rascoe to handle the situation.

The Assistant County Manager also said the Sheriff’s Office had been displaced because of flooding under the structure and that the building housing the Board of Elections and Detectives for the sheriff’s office suffered major flooding.

Rascoe informed the board that three shelters had been opened during the storm, but all of them had been consolidated into the Bertie Council on Aging. He said that shelter would close Thursday when the two families that were staying there relocated.

“They were totally displaced by the storm, but my office (Department of Social Services) was able to help them find a place to live,” he said. “They are planning to move and then we will convert the gym at the Council on Aging into a place for donations.”

During the meeting, the board also heard information about the difference in designations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

According to North Carolina Emergency Management Area 2 Coordinator David Weldon, the $10 million statewide threshold needed for a disaster declaration from FEMA refers only to public assistance. The threshold for individual assistance, he said, was based not on a monetary figure but a narrative of the issues facing those with loss.

Those important issues include lack of insurance, the concentration of damage, degree of damage, burden on local government to help those individuals and the degree of the ability of the individuals to recover without assistance.