Moore County residents meet to hear about options after Hurricane Matthew

Woodlake Dam in a photo provided by Mike Dixon.

VASS, N.C. (WNCN) — Residents in Moore County met with officials Wednesday night to hear what could be done to help them in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Melvin Copley was able to take pictures of the flood waters rising just before emergency responders came in on boats to get him out.

“But, I was gonna stay here until hell froze over or something, you know?” Copley said.

Related: Deadline is Monday to register with FEMA for Hurricane Matthew aid

His home along Riverview Drive in Moore County had some damage underneath.

It was a few days before he could even get back to see it.

“It was a 500-year flood,” Copley said.

Copley tried a couple years ago to sell the home where he lived with his wife, but couldn’t find a buyer.

“But, my wife, she’s been dead… 13 years,” he nodded when asked if it was time to move.

He’s among many people in Moore County who will have options through FEMA to have their homes elevated, reconstructed or, as Copley hopes, be bought out altogether.

Jennifer Bibey remembers when the helicopter came to get her as the flood waters rose.

Related: Click here for full coverage of Hurricane Matthew

“It was terrible. I cried because I was so terrified,” Bibey said.

She came to a meeting with other neighbors to hear about what FEMA could do.

But, like others, she still worries about the Woodlake Dam.

During the storm,  a hole about the size of two ambulances opened up.

More than 200 people south of the dam had to get out.

“We can’t get any answers from Woodlake,” Bibey said.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality issued a dam safety order with a deadline of December 16 to submit plans to fix the dam.

Related: Safety order regarding Woodlake Dam (pdf document)

A spokeswoman for the department says the owners failed to meet that deadline.

The agency could fine them or take them to court.

Bibey says she doesn’t want to wait.

“But, I’m not willing to risk my life again. Buyout or no buyout, we’re going to be looking for something else anyway,” Bibey said.

For homeowners who choose the buyout or another option, it could be a year to 18 months to complete that process.

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