CHERRY GROVE, SC (WMBF) - The road to recovery includes scams, flood laws, long waits and, of course, a lot of stress for the people in Cherry Grove whose homes flooded in Hurricane Matthew. It seems to be one thing after another for some, and one homeowner describes the experience as "becoming an insurance expert."
People were spotted driving a black pick-up truck, pretending to be FEMA contractors on Wednesday, according to the North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety. The scammers were offering to pick up debris for $1,500. Public safety said to call if you run across these people, this is not how FEMA operates.
In addition to scams, residents are dealing with the '50 percent flood law.' Harry Knapp's Cherry Grove home flooded during Hurricane Matthew. Under previous ownership, it flooded even worse during Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and Hurricane Hugo in 1989. However, black mold has overtaken his family's house. He said he couldn't believe how fast the mold appeared. Despite the infestation, the family hasn't decided what to do with the home.
"She doesn't want me to bulldoze it, she wants me to come back in," Knapp said of his daughter. Knapp recalls previous hurricanes and devastating events that make him second guess moving back into the home.
"I've got to make the decision do I want to go through this again, because I don't know if I can, I really don't," Knapp said.
According to Pat Dowling, the North Myrtle Beach spokesman, if a ground level home is damaged more than 50 percent, the home must be demolished. He said it's a national flood insurance law in order to avoid the same situation from happening again.
Dowling said homes that will be re-built in the flood zone must conform to FEMA requirements. One major requirement is the home must be build on stilts.
Rebuilding presents a problem for many homeowners. The property cost has risen since the homes were originally built.
"It cost to build. You know, that's what my deal is. You know, how am I going to afford to go up for $120 a square foot, I'm going to go back in to debt," said Knapp.
Even if the Knapp family decides to renovate instead of rebuild, Knapp said if they city finds he did too much work, he can still be forced to demolish the home.
"If I do all that stuff and they call me on it I've lost it all. If I do all that plumbing, and it cost me $7,000 or whatever, and they call me on it and say 'oh you've done over 50 percent,' I've lost all that money," Knapp explained.
The Knapp family is one of many with ground-level homes faces a tough decision. Many people in Cherry Grove also own other homes in the region. Knapp said many of his neighbors live in Lumberton. Those neighbors lost two homes.
"They got it there, then they came down here after having to wait because they couldn't travel on Highway 9 - they came down here, opened the door and the water just came out. So they got a double whammy," Knapp said.
Knapp and his neighbors said they'd feel a little better about the situation if the piles of debris would be removed. Described as a 'war zone' by residents, stacks of furniture, mattresses and ripped carpets decorate the avenues of Cherry Grove.
Dowling said FEMA certified contractors began pick-up in Cherry Grove Tuesday. But, they need more manpower. He said the city is working to get a third FEMA truck, but resources are tight and FEMA is busy.
Dowling said the city began debris pick-up Monday at Barefoot Landing. As of midday Tuesday, he said the city picked up more than 200,000 pounds of debris.