Flood victims search for answers after hurricane recovery efforts halted

Flood victims search for answers after hurricane recovery efforts halted

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Steel frames are all that remain of houses that once stood on Embassy Lane in Lee’s Landing, but residents are questioning why the debris is still there.

“The people who demolished our house said as long as everything was pushed to the road, FEMA would come and pick it up, so we just assumed that would happen,” said Lee’s Landing resident Lenore Letellier. “I would say maybe three, four days later, we noticed the stuff was still there.”

Now, weeks later, the scene remains the same.

Neighbors said workers from Christ in Action, a non-profit, faith-based disaster relief organization, demolish flood-damaged homes for free and then the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) picked up the debris for most of the houses.

But for Letellier and her neighbor Steven Simpson, this wasn’t the case.

“I can’t understand why FEMA would do that because they took my neighbors, they took my mother and father in-laws, but they left mine sitting here in the front yard,” Simpson said.

Letellier said she called FEMA, environmental services, code enforcement, waste management and a junk removal company.

“No matter who you call, they are referring you to one person to another person to another person to another person because nobody wants to own up to it,” Letellier said.

FEMA officials said the agency doesn’t clean up debris. Instead, it will reimburse cities and counties for the work.

Chris Zitzmann, Christ in Action’s director of operations, responded to WMBF News on Tuesday. He said the organization never said FEMA would be the one picking up the debris. Zitzmann said they tried to explain to residents how the agency would reimburse the contractors counties and cities hire for the work.

However, residents said Horry County is not offering any assistance.

“I’ve got the county calling me up saying if I don’t get rid of it that they’re going to push it back in my front yard because they don’t have the resources to do it,” Simpson said. “Now I’m just one person, they’re a county. I don’t have the resources to do it.”

Horry County was closed on Monday for Veteran’s Day and also did not return calls.

In the meantime, residents are running out of options and patience.

“I feel like they left us high and try,” Simpson said. “We’ve just got too much to be dealing with, to be dealing with steel in my front yard.”

Letellier said she may have to pay a company to remove it. This comes after residents already paid the county a $50 demolition fee.

“That alone is like a dagger in the heart. You know, you’re standing there watching your house be torn apart and everything, and you have to pay to do that,” she said.

Letellier and Simpson said they are just looking for some help and clarification.

“Honestly, I don’t know where to go from here. It’s just very frustrating and it’s just one more thing none of us need to worry about because we all lost everything,” she said.

A resident on the street called to update WMBF that the steel had been picked up as of Tuesday afternoon.

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