Long road to recovery ahead for NC 55

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KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – “Just awestruck just to see what kind of damage the water had done here,” recounted Len White, Lenoir County’s maintenance engineer with North Carolina Department of Transportation.

It’s a scene out of a movie. A road washed out. A crater of destruction left behind.

“The southwestern part of the county really got hit hard,” he said.

Some problems were easy fixes. Others have temporary fixes in place.

A few, like the damage along Highway 55, won’t be easy to repair.

“Is this the worst that there is in the county and how many places are similar to this,” 9 On Your Side asked White.

“This is probably the worst,” said White. “We are on 55 West here. And there are four sites like this one. There’s a couple over on the western part of the county, northwestern part that’ll be long term. But this is probably the worst spot we have.”

And White said it could be well into next year before the damage along Whitley’s Creek is fully repaired.

“And we’re talking months it could take to fix,” asked 9 On Your Side.

“Yeah, it’s conceivable it could be up to four months to get the worst, biggest ones permanently fixed,” he answered.

Right now, White and his crew are getting all the estimates together to submit to the state and then FEMA. Then, a contractor will come in and complete the work.

In the meantime, White is asking just one thing of residents and commuters affected by the detours in place because of the damage.

“Just be patient,” he said. “Be patient with us. We’re getting it just as fast as we can.”

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