An Inclusive Litany

8/31/98

After Hurricane Bonnie caused North Carolina's Topsail Island to be swept over by ocean floods for the third time in two years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency allocated $115 million to rebuild it along with two other barrier islands. At least three houses on the island have had to be repaired so many times over the past two decades that taxpayers have put more money into them than the homes and the property combined are worth, according to FEMA records. One building cost the agency $458,000 and had to be repaired six times and substantially rebuilt two times in the past 15 years. FEMA records, for purposes of insurance, put the value of the building at $424,900.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt said the state should toughen restrictions to discourage rebuilding on the island. That may account for the Inland Development Group's problems with their 25-acre property on the island. After performing the necessary environmental impact studies, development was held up for a year when the state Department of Archeology registered the island as a site of possible archeological significance because a pre-colonial Indian tribe may have lived on the island at one time. When the company asked why they weren't informed of the site's designation when they bought the property, the state archeologist said he feared graverobbers might desecrate the site if the information were made public. After long negotiations, Inland agreed to pay $65,000 for a study that yielded no artifacts of significance.

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