Flood aftermath dominates discussion

Published 11:31 am Friday, October 15, 2010

WINDSOR – Temporarily camper trailers will be allowed in the town of Windsor.

During Thursday morning’s regular meeting, the Windsor Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to allow camper trailers for six months while people work to rebuild their homes after the recent flooding.

“Yesterday I had a request that we consider allowing camper trailers temporarily while people restored their homes,” Windsor Mayor Jimmy Hoggard told the board. “I think it requires a thought process because you want to make sure you help people, but don’t want anyone to take advantage of it.”

Commissioner David Overton said the board allowed such temporary housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd.

Commissioner Bob Brown agreed.

“We did it after Floyd to allow people to live on their property while they were working on their home,” he said.

Overton said he didn’t have a problem with it because they were helping people.

Brown said he thought everyone should be back in their homes within six months and suggested that be used as the time frame.

Mayor Pro-Tempore Hoyt Cooper moved to allow the temporary housing with Commissioner Collins Cooper offering a second. It passed without objection.

The flooding has been taking up much of the time of town officials, including the commissioners.

As part of Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Hoggard commended Windsor Fire Chief Billy Smithwick and his department for helping residents who were in need during the flooding.

“You did a great job getting the right people in the right places,” the mayor told Smithwick.

“It was easy because people worked together and were willing to do everything I asked,” Smithwick responded.

Brown, who serves as Police Commissioner, also informed the board that a third officer had been added to the night shift since the flooding.

“We have a third officer who is mostly working in the flooded area to keep people away from the debris,” Brown said. “We have had some trouble with stealing, but the police department is aware of it and working on the problem.”

Brown also said he knew a lot of residents hoped buy-outs were part of the federal assistance declaration the county was hoping to receive. He said many people were frustrated with the second instance of major flooding in 11 years.

“I can’t blame them,” he said. “After the first one, it was easy to say it wouldn’t happen again, but now I can’t say that and I don’t think anyone else can either.”

Brown also commended the work of Town Administrator Allen Castelloe and his staff in the wake of the storm.

“Allen and his staff have done an excellent job,” he said.

Hoyt Cooper said he was pleased to have been able to work with other commissioners and the town staff.

“I sometimes feel like I didn’t have enough to do, but it has been good to work alongside every one of you in the tragedy,” Cooper said.

Collins Cooper said the district Rotary Clubs and the Lions Club were going to offer financial assistance in the wake of the storm and that he appreciated their help.

Cooper also said that as Executive Director of the Windsor-Bertie Chamber of Commerce he was going to work to raise the funds to restore the Chamber’s offices at no cost to the town.

As the discussion progressed, Brown said he thought something needed to be done to secure Windsor’s long-term future.

“Now is not the time because Allen has enough on his plate with recovery,” Brown said. “There will come a time soon, however, that we need to do something with the engineering of this river (the Cashie). There has to be some way to get this river to flow.”

Brown said he wasn’t in favor of levees because he feared it would simply move Windsor’s problem somewhere else.

The town board agreed by consensus to begin work on the project, hopefully with the Army Corps of Engineers, in the near future.

Mayor Hoggard said he knew there were some in the town that felt the flooding was a drainage issue, but that wasn’t the case.

“When the river is eight feet above its normal level, the water is coming from the river,” he said. “We need to work together to find out a solution.”

Mayor Hoggard said he agreed that levees weren’t the answer, but thought the town should explore every alternative.

“If we could fix it alone, we would have done it after Floyd,” Brown added. “We have to work with other people. We don’t have an engineering corps.”

Hoyt Cooper agreed that something must be done.

“We have to do something,” he said. “Right now there is nothing to encourage people to stay or come.”

Overton said the town requested a study in 1969 to see if dikes could help the water, but got no help.

“There’s no reason not to ask again, but I agree that we don’t need to just make it someone else’s problem,” he said.