Hurricane Matthew Recovery – Kinston

Kinston, N.C., is a city of more than 21,000, in Lenoir County, located along the Neuse River. Hurricane Matthew damaged about 200 homes, out of a total of 11,000 housing units. On Oct. 14, 2016, the Neuse River rose to 28 feet, twice as high as flood stage.

Much of the town lies within the 100-year floodplain, and Kinston was seriously impacted by Hurricane Fran in 1996 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999. FEMA and the state of North Carolina bought out properties in the 100-year floodplain, which extended about 3/4 of a mile into town from the river. Once acquired, the homes are demolished and the land maintained as open space in perpetuity. The funds provided to residents can be used to purchase a home located outside the floodplain.

In the intervening years, some former residential streets have remained blocked, and proposed uses such as parkland have largely stalled. Other flooded areas of the town have been converted into a park and nature center, and a large dog park complex, among other uses.

The North Carolina State University College of design proposed multiple housing types for relocation, elevation and further protection of future structures in town, as well as greenspace designation, through the Homeplace document.