CHAPEL HILL — The floodwaters have receded, but public facilities and local residents remain knee-deep in the mess they left behind.
Red Cross volunteers closed an emergency shelter Thursday at Smith Middle School and moved to a new Disaster Service Center near Dillard’s at University Mall. There, the Red Cross and its partners will continue to help more than 150 residents affected by the storm connect with services, find new homes and put their lives back together.
County housing officials also are asking anyone with vacant rental property to contact them about a referral database that will help resettle flood victims.
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue and spokesman Lt. Kevin Gunter are warning residents to be wary of people who offer to make repairs. The first report of shady dealings went out Thursday, when Gunter reported a fake FEMA representative passing out literature and talking to local flood victims.
“Orange County officials have confirmed through FEMA that these individuals were not affiliated with their organization,” Gunter said. “Residents are urged to call 911 and report suspicious individuals attempting to provide services who are not properly credentialed.”
Local officials also are warning residents about another growing threat: mosquitoes. Water standing in yards, flowerpots, clogged gutters and other places provides excellent breeding grounds, and Orange County Health Department officials expect a bumper crop.
Residents should examine their homes, dumping any water they find. Small areas, including birdbaths and garden pools, also can be treated with bacterial insecticides that kill the mosquitoes, but don’t hurt fish, birds or other wildlife. The insecticide “donuts” sold at many garden supply and retail stores typically treat up to 100 square feet and last about 30 days.
• The U.S. Postal Service says displaced residents should file a change of address form with the post office as soon as possible. Affected customers should look for forms in their mailboxes, a carrier said Wednesday at Camelot Village.
• Chapel Hill reopened the Community Center Playground on Estes Drive, but will keep Umstead Park and Sykes Street Park closed indefinitely. This is the third time in five years that Umstead Park has flooded, Town Manager Roger Stancil said. Town staff will start immediately replacing the existing playground structures – a job that was planned for later this year. It could be finished within 90 days, Stancil said.
• Chapel Hill Town Hall’s first floor also remains closed because of flooding. Residents should use the second-floor entrance.
• Notify Chapel Hill officials about potentially dangerous areas by email at email@example.com or call 919-968-2743.
Give help, get help
Red Cross officials said folks who want to donate to the relief effort should go to redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999. Monetary donations also can be sent to the Orange County Department of Social Services, 113 Mayo St., Hillsborough, NC 27278. Donated items can be dropped off at the PTA Thrift Store, 89 S. Elliott Road, Chapel Hill, or Orange Congregations in Mission, 300 Millstone Drive, Hillsborough. Displaced families will receive vouchers to shop for free clothes and household items.
• Residents needing help can call a 24-hour help line at 919-489-6541, ext. 4141. They also can contact the Department of Social Services at 919-245-2800.
• Anyone with vacant rental property is asked to call the Orange County Housing, Human Rights and Community Development Office at 919-245-2490. Caseworker will list the properties in a referral database and work with flood vitims to get them resettled.
• Homeless pets: Orange County Animal Services officials took in six dogs, four cockatiels, three chickens, two cats, two parakeets and a lovebird after the floods but didn’t have owner information for many. To find out if your pet is being held at the animal shelter on Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill, call 919-942-7387.
Repair and rebuild
Carrboro and Chapel Hill leaders plan to work with property owners to make condemned apartments and mobile homes habitable again.
Carrboro has agreed to waive building permit fees but will require owners of the Rocky Brook Mobile Home Park to make repairs that meet the town’s minimum housing code, said Matt Efird, Carrboro’s assistant town manager. Those requirements are stricter than the standards used when the community was built and will require more substantial flooring and new electrical wiring approved by a licensed electrician. The work is expected to take at least four to six weeks, according to Efird.
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said the town will work with Booker Creek and Cameron Village apartments owners to make those 90 condemned units habitable again.
Orange County’s state of emergency declaration last week also was the first step in getting state and federal relief assistance. State emergency management officials toured the damage Wednesday and will decide soon about possible funding, local leaders said.