A month after Florence, Duplin County trying to recover

— A month ago, Hurricane Florence devastated parts of North Carolina.

The storm claimed two lives in Duplin County. Delores Brock was driving during the storm when her car was swept off the road and flipped upside down. A 47-year old man was also killed when he fell from a ladder.

Damage was so extensive in the rural county that schools are still closed.

Joe Lanier, who owns an auto repair garage outside Chinquipin, has no business and no pay.

“Family owned, and you see a lot of it go,” Lanier said. “You don’t know what to do.”

Plywood on the garage window reads, “Closed till further notice.”

He had started to apply for flood insurance for the business, but Florence stormed in too soon.

“I saved what we could,” Lanier said. “We put up what we could up high – lost a lot, though.”

His home, behind the shop, was flooded too; he and his family are staying at his sister‘s place.

The roadsides around the county are blighted with pile after pile of home debris.

The students have been out of school for a month for safety reasons.

School system spokeswoman Dawn Craft says the buildings endured structural and water damage.

“We have the expert in the building, testing the nooks and crannies to make sure they’re safe,” Craft said.

It‘s about compassion, too.

“We want our families to have time to rebuild, to have time to figure out where they’re going to live, what they’re going to do next, basic essentials of life,” she said.

Craft said there‘s no way to make up all the time lost. The state will forgive 20 missed school days.

Lanier‘s 14-year-old son loves school, he said.

“He misses his friends,” Lanier said.

Duplin County schools expect to re-open Monday.

For now, Lanier’s son is helping him get back to business.

“I don’t want to leave my hometown,” Lanier said.