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Title: Oral History Interview with Steve Holland, December 16, 1999. Interview K-0510. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Holland, Steve, interviewee
Interview conducted by Thompson, Charles
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2004
Size of electronic edition: 216 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2004.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Wanda Gunther and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-12-08, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Steve Holland, December 16, 1999. Interview K-0510. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0510)
Author: Charles Thompson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Steve Holland, December 16, 1999. Interview K-0510. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0510)
Author: Steve Holland
Description: 211 Mb
Description: 61 p.
Note: Interview conducted on December 16, 1999, by Charles Thompson; recorded in Pender County, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Charles Thompson.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Steve Holland, December 16, 1999.
Interview K-0510. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Holland, Steve, interviewee


Interview Participants

    STEVE HOLLAND, interviewee
    CHARLES THOMPSON, interviewer
    UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 3
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So we're here. This is Shelter Creek. What do you call it?
STEVE HOLLAND:
This is Holland Shelter creek. The name of the creek is Holly Shelter Creek.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Holly Shelter. Okay. [We are] here with Mr. Steve Holland who's a Pender County commissioner and a small business owner. It's December 16th, 1999. I'm Charlie Thompson, and we are talking about the flood after Hurricane Floyd—how it affected his business, how it affected the river, this community, and hopefully we can talk some about the county's perspective on it since Mr. Holland is a county commissioner. You were starting to tell us that story about how when you were young you used to come up here. You weren't born right here on the river, on the creek.
STEVE HOLLAND:
I was born right outside of Burgaw. Which is—. I'm probably nine miles from where I was born. Part of my live I was raised over near the Morse Creek Battleground, which is over in the Currie area.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Currie of Pender County?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
At thirteen years old I moved to Wilmington, or my parents did and I had to go. At thirty-three I moved back to Pender County, which is where my grandmother and all my aunts and uncles on my mother's side were from.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now, you didn't want to go?

Page 4
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, I never could get that mud out [from] between my toes when I got in Pender County.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Because you liked the outdoors, you didn't want to move to town?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. My grandmother lived in Atkinson. I came up and spent a lot of with her and my step-granddaddy, and [we] squirrel hunted. Then at thirty-three years old I got a chance to buy a little fishing shop on Holly Shelter Creek.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What were you doing then, when you were thirty-three, up to that point?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, I'd been a construction worker. I'd been a boat captain. I ran a tractor-trailer. I had a shrubbery business. I'm a boiler maker, pipe fitter, carpenter. My dad told me when I was real young, learn how to do a lot of different things, that way you'll never be out of a job. I took him for his word. I tried to learn as much as I could over the years.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And you went to high school here in—.
STEVE HOLLAND:
I went to high school in Wilmington at New Hanover.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did you go on to other school after that?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You just started all your mini-businesses?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yep. I started working when we lived in the country in tobacco and blueberries, and stuff. Then we moved to Wilmington and I went and worked for a contractor when I was thirteen years old. I worked after school and summers, and played ball. Played a little football and baseball. When I got out of school I went into service.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Was that the Vietnam era?

Page 5
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum. When I came back I went back to work for the same man as I had worked for when I was thirteen. I ended up building nine houses myself. I got into the bulk-head business—piers and stuff—for a few years there. Then, when I was about thirty-three years old, I had been trying to figure out how to come back to Pender County. I was up here on the creek and found a lot right around the corner from this store here. I drove back up here. I didn't know how to get to it by land, but I new how to get to it by water. The guy who had this little fishing shop said, "Instead of a lot, why don't you have a business?" Eighteen days later I leased it for thirty years.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did he give you the idea of what business, or did he just say—?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, all he had here was—. He sold drinks and maps, and sold a little bit of bait and tackle. So I added onto it. I put in a little sporting goods department. After about a year I realized that you can't make it off of hunting and fishing six months out of the year, so I built a kitchen and a small dining room.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What year was that?
STEVE HOLLAND:
I came up here in 1981. I put my kitchen in in '82—the end of '82. In '84 I built the first dining room that's over the wharf, and went into the seafood business. I went from one employee in 1981 to, probably, in 1984 I had three. In 1999 I had twenty-three. I average a little over three thousand people a week for this little restaurant.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Which seats—? You told me already.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Which seats, now, one hundred and thirty-five. It went from twenty-eight seats to a hundred and thirty-five seats over this period of time.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You've got other businesses associated with this restaurant.

Page 6
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, then I built a campground. And then in 1998, in the fall, a good friend of mine came in and went partners with me on—not on the store and the restaurant, but we built ten cedar cabins with tin roofs, and bought forty canoes and a fifteen-passenger van, and started running trips on the creek. And the restaurant business just kept growing. We had just started [the creek trips before the flood]. We had the cabins we finished up and opened in May of 1999.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Ten cabins, was it?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum. They were just starting to pay for themselves. I think we had done thirty-eight or forty-eight church groups and youths groups, as far as running trips on the creek. We were renting quite a few individual canoes out, for people's day trips. Then on September 16th, it all stopped.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's when the flood came.
STEVE HOLLAND:
That's when the hurricane hit us.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did you have high winds? You could tell the hurricane was passing through?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh, yeah. I had maybe four or five threes that got blown down. Really didn't have hardly any damage—a few shingles off here and there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now your house is also here. You own a good bit of river frontage? Much more than that one piece you bought in '81.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, I leased this property for thirty years.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's right.
STEVE HOLLAND:
There's three thousand feet of water front here. There's about seven and a half acres. A few years back I bought a couple of lots on the creek right around the corner

Page 7
from the store. In 1992 I built a house in there on pilings, which is only three lots away from the campground. Then in 1994 I bought a hundred and ten acres on Shelter Creek. Then I bought another thirty-eight acres right next to it. I own a mile on Shelter Creek up there and a quarter of a mile on Angola Creek.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And that's all been through floods and hurricanes before, right?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well Fran, when it came through, I got some water in my garage under my house. That didn't bother me a whole a lot. The store had no water in it. The campground didn't have any water in it. And my farm—. I did get fourteen inches of water in a little camp that I have down there, but it wasn't very destructive. But this September, the water came up, basically, about seven and a half feet higher than Fran did at the restaurant, the store, and the campground, and my house. It didn't rise that much at the farm. We had the back up effect of the water not being able to get out of here—which was no one's fault. It was just that too much water came down at one time.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So back to the fifteenth, four trees blew down and then you got up the next morning it was still possible to live here?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh, yeah. The water didn't really get bad until the hurricane hit on Wednesday.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right. And that was the fifteenth, wasn't it?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. The fifteenth. And three days later is when we realized that it [the flooding] was going to be worse than we'd ever seen.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How did you start knowing that?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, we came across the river bridge and the water was getting so deep that you couldn't drive a vehicle. Shelter Creek was still dry at the time, but it [the flood

Page 8
water] had gone across the road down here at the Northeast Cape Fear and then gone across the road up toward Maple Hill. It was getting to the point that you couldn't drive through it. By Saturday the water was a least two feet deep in the restaurant. By Sunday the water was six feet deep in the restaurant. Then the water stayed up for probably a week after it got here because it didn't have anywhere to go. I didn't get to see the water inside my store or house or anything because I was in the hospital at the time with back surgery. I left on Saturday after the hurricane. The roads were already closed then and it was already in my business. I ended up in the hospital.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You were watching on TV, the news about this place.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. One night I was watching the news and they were showing a boat going down Highway 53. They showed a roof and I recognized it as my business. Some friends came [to the hospital]. They didn't want to tell me about it because I was kind of in bad shape. Then I found out it also went in my house. I stayed, altogether, eleven days [in the hospital]. I was unable to walk or get up. On the eleventh day they found out what was causing the problem [and] they operated on me. I got out of the hospital on a Friday, and on Sunday morning they told me I couldn't ride or drive for six days. But on the second day I told my mother that I had to go see what I was facing. She brought me up here and that's when I saw what was left of my store.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What did you think when you first saw it?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, it was devastating. After I saw the store and the campground, I went to my house. I couldn't go to the farm because I just couldn't face one more thing in the same day. I'd seen them both. It's not the worst thing I ever went through. I lost a daughter eight years ago to cancer. There's nothing that can devastate you as much as

Page 9
that did. I made up my mind that I just had to get on some people working, and get this place back on its feet—get it opened back up. It supports two big families and other businesses that are related to services with this place. Nobody wanted to see it go away, including me. Now we're in the process of rebuilding. I've been out of my home for four months. I've been out of my business for that long, too. I qualify for some SBA loans. I don't qualify for anything through FEMA at this time, that I know of. They tell me I don't qualify for anything.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you understand that process? Can you explain it to us, and how they determine who is eligible for FEMA and SBA, and so forth?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, I wish I could explain it. I don't understand it. I watched TV while I was in the hospital [and heard about FEMA]. When I got out of the hospital and I went to them, they said, "Oh, we're going to help you out."
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You went to them in Burgaw?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum. When I finally got out of the hospital [and got to the point] where I could walk, I went in and filled out all the paperwork. I got a letter from them saying that I didn't qualify for anything.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Because you are—?
STEVE HOLLAND:
It really didn't say. It said, "At this time you don't qualify for anything." Since I was turned down by FEMA for any assistance, I went to my bank. My bank told me that whatever it took to get me back in business, they would help. Then SBA showed up. SBA said, "We're going to put you back to where you were before the hurricane."
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That was when? What month?
STEVE HOLLAND:
That was in October—the end of October.

Page 10
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And this [SBA] person came out of Raleigh? Out of Washington?
STEVE HOLLAND:
I guess he came out of Atlanta. That or Washington. But the process is—. I still ain't got any money and it's been four months since my place closed down. I think we're getting close to that. As long as you got enough collateral, then they loan you the money. They don't give you any money. They loan it. You pay it back at a lower interest rate.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Can you tell how much you want to borrow and how much collateral they require? That seemed a little bit high when you were telling us before. More than a little bit.
STEVE HOLLAND:
I don't understand how they figured it. They tell me that I qualify for three-hundred and sixty-eight thousand dollars in loans on my store and restaurant. The campground did not qualify for anything because it has not been in existence since May, actually. I didn't have a track record back there, even though I owned the campground before and I turned it over to a new partnership.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It's been in business thirty-three—.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, eighteen years in this location. But that it didn't qualify for any assistance—loans or anything else. My house qualified for a hundred and thirty-eight thousand dollars in loans. I had flood insurance on it. The flood insurance wasn't as high as their estimates were to fix it. The man that built it originally says he can put it back the way it was for a lot less than they estimated. They just started working on it. I also had a farm. It went under water and it didn't qualify for anything.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Say what you raised on the farm.

Page 11
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, it's a small game preserve with deer, wild turkey, ducks, squirrels, rabbits.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Are you actually responsible for putting some of those animals out there, or do you just make it attractive for them?
STEVE HOLLAND:
I make it attractive for them. I was probably spending six or seven thousand dollars a year feeding wild game and taking very little. I've been a sportsman all my life and I figured—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And you have two sons who are [sportsmen] as well, right?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. I always felt like if God looked out for you and you could afford to do it, that you needed to give something back. That's one of the places that I give back. They don't go hungry at the farm. We plant corn, we plant oats, soy beans. We plant rye and peas. I bought five loads of sweet potatoes last year. I probably bought four or five hundred bags of corn and put it out for them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You drive your truck out there and just leave these things around the fields?
STEVE HOLLAND:
I put seven fields in on this property and I plant it every year. I built a duck impoundment that's about five acres when it is flooded with water. I put a corn field right in the middle of it. There was one road in, and I have a little more than four-and-a half miles of roads and trails that I've cut and maintained. It's a right unique place.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And people pay to go in there hunt?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's separate. You don't have that as a business.

Page 12
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, it's not a business. It's something I did for my children, because we're losing all the land to development. I thought this was a way my kids would learn to respect wildlife and the outdoors. This is what I try to teach them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How do you get there from here? Do you go on the river?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, you can. It's twelve miles by water, but you can't go up and down the creek right now, because there's too many trees across it. The county had just finished cleaning them up about a year ago. Now, all of a sudden, this last storm, or three storms this year, blocked it up again. By land it's only four miles up the road.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So, you've mentioned three storms. How many inches of water does that total?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Right here in our neighborhood, with the three storms, [the water] amounted to forty-one inches. Some places got a little less and some places got a little more. One storm dropped twenty-one inches of rain on us—Floyd—which is kind of a lot of water to dispose of. I think a lot of it's got to do with—. We're doing so much development now. We're cutting so much timber, that there's nothing to soak up the water. The worst part is hurricane season usually hits us when the sap quits rising. Consequently, all these trees are not drinking the water that they drink during the rest of the year. But I don't think if you look anywhere in this nation they've gotten that much rain in that period of time.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right. Tell me more about that process of how they opened the dams on the main Cape Fear River and so on. You understand that better than anybody I've talked with.

Page 13
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, you have [two] locking dams—Riegelwood, and the other one's up in Elizabethtown.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Riegelwood, what county is that in?
STEVE HOLLAND:
That's in Brunswick.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
I think it's Brunswick. It might be Sampson County.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
They didn't have a choice but to open the dams. They tried holding it back as long as possible. It was either open the gates, or the gates blow out—which would have been devastating [and would have]caused more flooding in their area than they already had.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So they opened the gates gradually, or just—?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, I'm sure that they tried doing it in a reasonable intervals, you know, to let this water off. What happened was, the Cape Fear River filled up.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It backed all the way up from Wilmington back, right?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, the Cape Fear River was at forty-foot or something, flood stage. When they let the water out it came down to Wilmington.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So, it hits the ocean, right?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, what it does [is] it comes down and hits Wilmington.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Then the Northeast Cape Fear in Wilmington runs together, and Black River, all down in Wilmington.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.

Page 14
STEVE HOLLAND:
When the water came down it didn't have anywhere to go. It was such a magnitude of water coming from everywhere that the water started backing up. The reason that we know it was backing up is because up the road from us the water was a lot lower than it was here, and there was no reason for it to be lower. That's where the water started at. The water shouldn't have built up that high. We should have got less. Instead, we got more. It had to be a backup effect that caused the extent of the flooding that we had, but nobody I know of blames them for opening the dams. They didn't have a choice. It would have been nice if we could have foreseen it and they could have let the water out before it ever got that bad, but I'm sure they were doing the best they could. We just had to pay the price this time.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How many people in Pender County have been affected by the flood?
STEVE HOLLAND:
One of the reports that I saw at the county office was thirteen hundred homes, not counting businesses.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Can you name some of the communities where it was worst?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, Maple Hill, White Stocking, Stag Park, Burgaw, Currie. Some places were a lot worse. We had a lot of flooding up near the Penderlea area, especially Wallace. Wallace is in Duplin County. They had extensive Rockfish Creek running into the Northeast backed up over the highways and devastated the people in that area. Probably our worst area was Holly Shelter Creek, White Stocking, Grooms Bridge Road, on this side of the county. Stag Park. Burgaw, they're not in a flood zone and they didn't realize how bad it was for them—or how vulnerable it was. They were where this water backed up. We also had three industries on I-40. It completely closed down I-40

Page 15
for a period of time. These three businesses, it is the second time they've been flooded in the last three years. They have more than seven hundred employees.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What are those businesses?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Chloride, Wheeland, and Leslie Lock.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. Let's talk a minute, since you're a county commissioner, about what the county's role is in the recovery effort or in the rescue effort. How did you see the county taking action? You were in the hospital part of that time, but what's the responsibility of each branch of government, the federal government, and so on? How is that divided up and who knows whose responsibility it is to save people's live and then whose it is to help people rebuild and that sort of thing?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, the saving of lives comes up in emergency management. We did have to come in with helicopters and pick up people.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Pender County has helicopters?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No. We had to bring in rescue helicopters.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
From?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Which is military, and there were some private ones, too, but not from Pender County. Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg brought in amphibious vehicles to help move people out and to gather up dead animals from farms and all. The county was basically more of the focal point where they did the assessment where the water was rising, where they needed more assistance, helping with food banks. And then the Red Cross came in.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You have a chapter in Pender County?

Page 16
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, but we're in a district area. They came and gave out things and tried helping as many people—. A lot of assistance went through social services and the governor and all sent in supplies and stuff out here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
But some of that just didn't work as smoothly—. I mean, part of this history is about the recovery effort, and if it just didn't work well, if it didn't get to the right people in every case, then I think history deserves to know that. Often in our media coverage and the announcements we get from Governor Hunt's office, it seems as though everyone is getting equal shares of all this, and counties are getting it, you know. Where does it go? It goes directly from the governor's office to social services?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, like I say, I was in the hospital during the crucial time, but my understanding was that just about all of the assistance came down from Raleigh, from the state.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
From that governor's emergency fund?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Right. [It] came through social services. I think a lot of people were left out of the loop because flood victims were displaced. They lost their homes. They didn't have anywhere to stay.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And they were gone to other counties?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. They had to find shelter somewhere else. We tried to get the mobile units in here as fast as possible. It seems like a lot of people that needed them didn't get them. A lot of people still haven't got any help. I think there is a better way to do it. They need to assess the damage in other ways.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Can you give recommendations for how that could work?

Page 17
STEVE HOLLAND:
I think a lot of people that got assistance weren't hurt and didn't deserve it, but they took it anyway because it was free. It really put a bad taste in a lot of other people's mouth. Here I am, I lost everything I had, and I'm not getting any assistance, or any answers, and people that weren't even affected by the flood—I mean they were affected by the hurricane, but they didn't lose their homes and didn't have water in them, or their businesses, or anything else— were standing in the lines getting a lot of this stuff that should have went to people.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Food? Money?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Everything. I think that when all is said and done and they start looking back at it, some of these people are going to be sorry they did what they did. I hope they'll feel responsible for taking things that they shouldn't of took—that they didn't deserve. There's a lot of people in Pender County that got hurt a lot—lost everything. A lot of people didn't lose anything benefited from it. A better way is to assess the damage of who got hurt, and keep a record of who got the services. I just don't feel like a lot of the that people deserved it got it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
As county commissioner, is there any way that you can see the county doing a better job?
STEVE HOLLAND:
I think the county did an excellent job. The breakdown came when the stuff was sitting in here. It was sent to be distributed, maybe not in the fairest way. I think that the ball got dropped between the state and the federal government. I don't think the county dropped the ball. We did everything financially that we could do. There's only so much money in a county. You do not have the resources that the state and federal government has.

Page 18
CHARLES THOMPSON:
About how much money can a rural county like this put together to help people? And how did you use that money?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, a lot of the money which the county puts up initially is reimbursable through FEMA or through different agencies that help in these disasters. But the county, and the state—. One of the things that the state did do this time was that they took over the debris removal. Right now the problem that I see is they're going to quit picking up debris. Well, a lot of the neighbors here still haven't got any money, so consequently, they haven't been able to do any work.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In other words, removing debris costs money?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Right. We front a lot of it and then hope that we get back part of it. We set up areas to haul debris through waste management or waste industry. We use the resources that we do, but they have to be paid.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And that includes the county landfill?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, we don't have a landfill any more. They closed ours down.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Where do you take all this?
STEVE HOLLAND:
We have some staging areas that it's taken to initially, and then we have to have a contract to haul it to a landfill by somebody that's licensed and can take the kind of material that we have.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that in a close-by county, or do you have to go out and—?
STEVE HOLLAND:
I think it's over in Sampson County, the closest one. Hauling costs is not cheap. You're talking about a lot of debris when you're talking about thirteen hundred homes and then businesses that have to be gutted or tore down. One of the biggest things that we lost was a lot of trailers, which were people's homes. Like you say, even when

Page 19
you have insurance, there's things that you lose that you can't replace. You know, the picture on the wall, or whatever. In my case, I just, I never though of my store going under water. I never thought of my house having water in it, because of the elevation. It opens your eyes. I don't know what the answer to it is. Is this is a five-hundred year flood? Do we not ever have another one for five hundred more years? Or, do we have one next year? Most of us, including myself, have to borrow the money to start over again. The one's that we feel the sorriest for out here are the people that are on fixed incomes and the elderly. I mean, they can't pay money back. I don't see where they're getting the assistance that they need.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In order to borrow money, you had to have had flood insurance?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, you didn't have to have flood insurance. You have to put flood insurance on it if you borrow the money.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. You have to buy the insurance in order to get the loan.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
From SBA, a least. From the bank, too, probably.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. It makes no difference. The rates are better, but the parameters of what the loan are for cost you a lot more through SBA then it does through the bank.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's the first I've heard that. It costs more to borrow from SBA?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, it does because of all the loopholes. By the time you hire a lawyer to do title searches, deed of trust, and then you get flood insurance, that's a continuing expense, through the life of the loan.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You figured it up? How much is that money going to cost?

Page 20
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, just on this store loan, if I ran it for thirty years and made the payments like they set up, it's going to cost me about a hundred and eighty thousand dollars, extra, just in insurance premiums, above what I'm already paying.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Just to borrow three hundred and thirty some thousand. So you're spending more than half to borrow the money.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
If you didn't have this money set aside, some sort of nest egg, there would be no way you could rebuild.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, to start with, to qualify for loans you have to have the insurance in place. Most people aren't sitting around with a nice nest egg, or they've got it tied up in a retirement program, or something, that when you take it out, you have to pay taxes on it. That leaves you without a whole lot of money, but you have to do these things to qualify for your loans. I had to prove that I had insurance on everything that was being used for collateral. Consequently, if I hadn't had the money to buy the extra insurance that they require, I couldn't have borrowed the money. Then, I have to continue paying that every year as long as you have borrowed money. And the difference—. My house and my farm, there was no question about those. My store—. The problem is, on commercial property, it's not—. I don't pay twenty-two cent on a hundred, like a do for a house. I pay a dollar and seventy-eight, I think it is, a hundred on the store. Well, that mounts up to a lot of insurance. The difference is my house is worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, or two hundred and twenty-five thousand. The store is worth two hundred and twenty-five thousand.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The store slash restaurant.

Page 21
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. So, my insurance on my house is going to cost me, three hundred and eighty dollars. The insurance on my restaurant is going to cost three thousand three hundred and twenty six dollars a year.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So how are you doing on time?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh, I'm fine.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Still okay. This tape is probably going to run out, and we'll turn it over. But, these fellows are moving this mobile home. Is that something that was on your property?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, that's a new one. They must be taking it to somebody.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. Looks like they're going through debris. Well, I'm thinking of different levels. We've talked some about the county. We talked just slightly about Governor Hunt's sending money to social services. What do you think about all these millions of dollars? There's a lot of controversy right now in Raleigh between legislators, say, from the mountains—particularly Republicans who say, "We don't want to pay for this." Then there's Governor Hunt's side that says, "Well, we don't want to raise taxes to come up with money. We're going to take it from the other programs." His statement in yesterday's news was, "If you have a leak in the kitchen you have to stop building your deck on the front of your house to go and fix the leak." He's saying the leak is like the flood, and the deck on the front of the house is like all these other social programs, Smart Start, and some of those. Where do you stand on those kinds of issues? What should the state do?
STEVE HOLLAND:
I don't know how much the state can do. They work on basically seven percent—that is what our tax rate is. I think there's a lot of programs, because I'm a

Page 22
county commissioner, that aren't working. They are administrated through the state. They include social services, or Head Start, or any of the rest of them. They've proven they are not working, but they keep funding them. There's a lot of money that's being wasted in this state. Not that we deserve any more than anybody else in the state, but I think that we've all shown that when other disasters happen in other places, we pitch in and help. All we expect is the same from them when it happens to us. The majority of people are moving to [Unclear.] [Background noise of car driving by.] . We happen to be in a cycle right now, and they say it's a ten-year cycle on hurricanes. I mean, we went for years, and years, and years, and we paid the rates. We pay them down here because we live here on the coast. Insurance-wise and everything else, we pay the rates. This is the time that it is hitting us the hardest. I'm not sure how it worked, but when Hugo turned and went up and went into our mountains and then to Charlotte, and all, for what I understand, they helped those a lot up there. No one complained down here about helping. I happen to be a Republican, and if any Republican senator or house of representative that doesn't feel like they want to cut any programs out or help the people down here, they don't get to be in office. You know, and whether you are a Democrat or Republican makes no difference. I don't look to see what you are, when you come before us as a county commissioner. It's either right or its wrong. Now, if you don't feel like it's right to help the people of Eastern North Carolina through this devastation, then you vote that way, but if you're doing it purely because you think the money is more important in a Head Start program, or one of these programs that has been proven they're not working—. I mean, basically, a lot of these programs are baby sitting programs. Are they more important than people's homes and lives? To furnish a baby sitting service? I

Page 23
hope none of them have to go through what we've gone through down here. I hope that it never hits them at home like it has us. This cycle will change. We'll go back to sunny skies. The one thing that the law makers need to understand is a lot of our tax base comes right off this coast. It feeds the whole state, it doesn't just feed us. Tourism is one of the biggest things there is. That's one thing we have a lot of. Your mountains have a lot of it, but you need to look out for each other. We're all North Carolinians, one way or another. I mean, all you have to do is go back over history and look at all the pork barrel money that's been wasted. Instead of cutting our taxes where maybe we could afford to carry more of the load, instead you all keep the same tax rate, but you keep wasting the money. You keep doing these projects. I mean, every day you read in the newspaper where somebody has got caught because they've done something they shouldn't have done. I'm talking about our legislators, our highway commissioners, and everybody else. It seems like they don't ever have to pay money back. Most of us down here are not getting "give away" money. We're paying it back. Most of us pay taxes. I'm going to pass up the state level because I don't know how much the state can really do. Federal money—. I'm in the thirty-eight percent tax bracket. The federal government is not loaning me anybody else's money, except what I've worked hard and paid in, and they're charging me interest to use it. It's the same way with federal programs. Every week you see on the news, it's something, the fleecing of America. Well, it's time for the fleecing to stop. This week I saw where we were shipping out to [Unclear] all these millions and millions of dollars worth of aid. They don't have to pay a dime back. All we want you to do is cut the red tape out and if we're going to borrow money, get it down here and let us get started. Let us get to build back and be productive again. I've got twenty-three

Page 24
employees that are sitting out here looking for a job. They're going to have to go to work before long if I don't get open. One of the things the state did this time, and I think it's great that they did, is they are not going to change the businesses unemployment rate because of this disaster. Which is a big help.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Explain what you mean by that.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, you pay unemployment taxes on a sliding scale of what your rate is, or how dangerous it, whether it's a tree man, a line man or a cook, right on down to if you've got clerical work going.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
One is more likely to cause disability than the others.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
So you try and get your rate down as low as you can by not having accidents, by working safe—by teaching your employees to work safe. The state came along after the hurricane and said, "Okay. We're going to let your employees draw unemployment, but we're not going to let them draw against you. That will keep your rate from going up." Every person that draws makes your rate go up. I have a very good safety record here. I've had two accidents in ten years, and none of them were real bad.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
STEVE HOLLAND:
What the state did was say, "Okay, you estimate when you're going to be back in business." My estimation was the fifteenth of January. That was under the assumption that my SBA loan, and all, would come through where I could do more work. Well, this is on the fifteenth or fourteenth?

Page 25
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Today?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, I have the sixteenth on my watch.
STEVE HOLLAND:
I think it is the fifteenth.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh, it is? Well, my watch was wrong. Well, okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, it is the fifteenth of December, and I'm about thirty per cent through my building. I'm at the point now where I've just about depleted what I had saved up, and now I'm waiting on the federal government.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That makes it exactly three months, really. September, October, November, December. Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Until the money starts coming in, which you have to jump through all the hoops and send in receipts, and all, of what you're doing—. And most businesses or homeowners, even homeowners, aren't as lucky as I was. I had saved some money to pay off some debt. I've used that money to get started. I'm probably not going to hit my target date of January the fifteenth, but hopefully I'll make it back, say February the first. But come January the fifteenth, my employees have to start looking for a job. If they don't find one, then it starts going against my unemployment.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So for four months, exactly, they would not put it against yours.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. But then you think for two weeks you're going to have to start paying—.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, if, if—I'm still waiting on my SBA loan. I've been approved. I've done all of the things they told me I had to do, but the check's not in the mail yet.

Page 26
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And what all did you have to do? You had to get insurance, we went through that.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Insurance, you had to get title searches, you had deed of trust. You had to have an opinion on your property.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Um-hum. Appraisal, right?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Appraisal.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And all that you pay for?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh yes.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And I was lucky because the lawyer that I used was the one that I used when I bought the things that I had. So consequently, none of it had changed over the years as I made payments. I just paid it down. But a lot of people aren't as lucky as I was. And a lot of people weren't as lucky as I was by having my ( ). I was a lot further along that most businesses or homeowners. And I'm just hoping and praying that I make it at least by February the first. Because I need these people back to work, and I don't need my employment rate to go up to where I have to pay more. I'm already paying enough. I don't need to be paying more.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now, these twenty-three are just for the store and the restaurant, or are they also for your camp?
STEVE HOLLAND:
That's just the store and the restaurant.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Total, how many people do you employ in the season when you're open with the cabins?

Page 27
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, we just opened it up, my partner and I, and we have one contract ( ) that comes in and cleans cabins, a cleaning service. And the rest we do ourselves.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
[Aside to someone who enters room.] How are you?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
What do you say?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you want me to ( )?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Six or seven cases of ( ), back there in my office. We had to throw them away, salt, pepper. Everything that was plastic had to be thrown away. Now we find out that there wasn't any pollution hardly in this water. Well, it's too late now. Everything's been thrown away. Tee-shirts. I probably had two hundred and twenty-five tee-shirts hanging on racks back there, rods and reels, coolers. I mean just, it's unbelievable all of the stuff that was in here. And stuff on the walls. I mean, there were three Terry Revlin prints hanging on the wall that I bought at either Ducks Unlimited or either the Wild Turkey Federation, that anywhere from three hundred to six hundred dollars. All of them are gone now. Wildlife that was hanging in here. My bear is going to survive. My old wooden Indian is going to survive, and those bass out there are going to survive. But, I mean, probably half the stuff that was in here people gave me. They were in Saudi Arabia and brought me a can back with the letters of Saudi Arabia, or whatever.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
( ).
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah, yeah. Just all kind of stuff in here that was—and that you can't replace. Some paintings and stuff that local people did. There were two wall over in there that were covered with nothing but hunting and fishing pictures from, it started eighteen years ago, that were people that were five and six years old and fishing with their

Page 28
daddy, and now they're married and got kids, and say, "This is me with your granddaddy." All those are gone now. It's, those are the things that you can't replace that's going to be the worst, because this is probably—well, I got a bunch of pictures at the camp that shows this place. This was one of the most unique places in the world. I mean, everybody that came in here, that bear and that Indian met you when you came in. I mean, generations of persons were coming to this place. I mean, it's—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Why do they like coming?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, just the way it looked and the food. Plus, I've got some of the best employees you'd ever want to have working for you. Not all of them are that way, but a—I have five that went from nine years to fourteen years with me. You know, when people stay with you that long you must be doing something right.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
You get the schematic?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Shucks, no.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
Ain't got it yet?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Nope. It didn't come in the mail because I checked it last night. I don't know why it didn't come. ( ). They was going to bring that refrigerator and that beer cooler, Monday, and bring the schematics for the coolers. And I got the new door hinges and all. Do you know how much a set of hinges for that walk-in cooler is? Two hundred and fifty collars for two hinges. A hundred and twenty-five dollars a hinge.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
That's probably a good hinge, ain't it? [Laughter]
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now you ( ) fixing?
STEVE HOLLAND:
They were a God-send, the volunteers that came here. They gutted this place in four days.

Page 29
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Where were they from?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, I say volunteers, but not volunteers. It was that president, our wonderful president, had a deal where they pay them seven dollars an hour.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh, Ameri-Corps.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Right. And, but I'll tell you what, they're workers. They came in here and gutted this whole place. The only problem was, just like the door hinges, when the ripped it out, instead of saving them they threw them away. I mean, they didn't save anything. They threw everything away that was in here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now they were saying to some people in some communities, "Throw everything away because it is contaminated." You were saying something about that. Is that what they were telling you?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh yeah. They told us if you had any clothing, anything that got wet with this water, throw it away. You can't wash it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Why? I mean, why did they tell you that?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Because of the pollution in it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Pollution from—?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, the first reports were is that all these hog farms, and turkey farms, and all the dead animals, and all the e-coli, all this stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
Someone said it was dead hogs.
STEVE HOLLAND:
But, I went to the Health Department and I was talking to the head, the health director. And he told me that out of three thousand that they only had like, twenty-six that had e-coli in the water. And all you had to do was Clorox it, and they all cleared up. I think they got three left in Pender county that hasn't cleared up. You know, so, where's

Page 30
all the pollution at? But, that's what they told everybody. Get rid of everything. So, consequently, people threw all their clothes away, everything. And now the problem is they are not getting any assistance to replace all this stuff with.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Yeah. We've heard that time and time again.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, and a lot of people got more than they deserved. And a lot of people that deserved more got nothing.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Um-hum.
STEVE HOLLAND:
It's like Mr. King over there, wanting to loan him money at seventy-four years old with a bad heart. You know, that's not helping anybody. I mean how many years did he pay taxes, and look out for his country? And there's nobody here to help him. He's never used social services. He's never used the Health Department. He worked and paid his way through. Now that he's at an age that he can't do it again, they want to loan him money? Huh. It's just not right. I don't know what the answer is. The one thing that happens with all these disasters is the government keeps growing. You know, that's the one thing I see is that every time you turn around we have a disaster, they hire another five thousand people. And once they put them on the payroll, they don't ever get off. So government just keeps growing. The one thing they did here in Pender County, and I don't know a lot about it. You can talk to our county manager about it. But they did come up, the Feds, with some of the people that are out of work, and I have two of my employees that are doing it. They hire through the Federal government to do assessments. And go out and take pictures of every flood house. Put it all on maps and stuff like that.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
These are Federal employees or contractors? How does that work?

Page 31
STEVE HOLLAND:
This is people like the people that work for me.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
That they're going to be out of work for X amount of time. Well, they, they said, okay, the county can hire these because we need the maps updated, we need to know where every house is. So, we'll let you pay them X amount of money, and they'll come to work, and they can work for six months. And then the job ends. Which is a good deal. It's, at least a few of my employees took advantage of it. And the day that I open back up, then their job ends and they come back with me. Or it can run until June. Well, they're not going to be able, mine won't work through June because I'm going to get opened back up one way or another. But, so it gives them—they feel better about themselves instead of laying around the house drawing unemployment. Now I have some that are just as happy as they can be, going down there picking up that check once a week for doing nothing. But then I've got some that just, they're workers and they're not going to sit around and take and do nothing.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So that's an example of people getting on the Federal payroll and then getting back off. But then there's some, you're saying, that get on and never get off.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh, of course.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Are they FEMA people, or what's the story?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, I'm sure it's FEMA, SBA, all of it. It seems like the few times I went to an SBA office and FEMA, they always had new trainees.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In Burgaw?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum.

Page 32
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. I want you to describe that office in a bit, but go ahead and say what you're going to say.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, every time you go in there they got new trainees working. And just from listening to conversations with them, you know, I said, "How long have you worked here?" "Well, I'm training." "Well, how long have you worked here?" "Well, oh, I've been traveling around doing disasters for nine years. I did it just for one of them and now I've ended up, I've worked, you know, now I've been here nine years, going all over the country." Well, that's what happens. They hire them. They, you know, it keeps growing. The government keeps growing. You know, Pender County is the same way. There's state and federal mandates, programs, that we have to do. And then they'll fund them for about three years, and all of a sudden the funding goes away, but we have to keep the programs. So then we have to pick up the dip. And social services is the fastest one there is in the state. I mean, all the social services are growing. Because they keep coming up with these programs. Instead of cutting out programs that don't work, they just let them stay there. Just mold around it. And then they have these new programs, and they say, "Okay. We're going to fund this. We're going to fund it eighty thousand dollars a year. It's going to take care of this, two staff members, a part-time one, and this and that and the other." And then at three years, all of a sudden the come and say, "All right. We're not going to fund it any more, but you've got to keep it." So what do you do? You have to raise taxes. Because we hadn't raised taxes in Pender County in five years. The reason we hadn't raised taxes is because the, the, we were in bankruptcy. We had less than fifty-thousand dollars in fund balance six years ago.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The county was bankrupt.

Page 33
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. The state wrote us a letter and said, "You've thirty days to come up with a business plan or the state is going to take over Pender County. It is the worse run county in North Carolina." This was six years ago. For the last three years we've won the most distinguished award in Pender, in North Carolina as the best innovative, best run county there is. That's what happens when you get a good county manager and some good commissioners.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that what you all did, you re-elected, I mean, elected some new people and rehired a manager?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh, and not because they were Republicans, but we went from a board of five Democrats that took, they spent, they spent more money in a month than the county commissioners we have now spent in a year, traveling.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Traveling.
STEVE HOLLAND:
They went all over the United States. Every conference they came down and stayed in a three hundred dollar a night rooms. County manager that was here spent money just like there was no tomorrow. And then, got to send this back. We hired a good county manager. They elected three Republicans. Turned around and elected two more. We ended up with, five years ago, we ended up with more than four Republicans and one Democrat.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And when were you elected?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Five years ago.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. That's more than I thought. Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
But, we said, "All right. No more growing. We're going to get rid of all the fat. You're going to start doing your jobs, or you're not going to work here." And we

Page 34
have a county manager that has stuck to the program. We had to raise taxes sixteen cent that first year, just to keep the state from taking us over. Two years later we gave back four cent of that sixteen cent and dropped the tax rate, which is the first county that ever dropped the tax rate in the history of North Carolina.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Um. That represents a huge change for local government, doesn't it? Changing over to the Republican party majority is that, in this part of the state—.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh, that was a—listen, the first Republican was elected seven years ago.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
First Republican ever?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Ever in the history of Pender County.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And not, we had some good Democrat government, too. Problem is we didn't have enough, good ones. We had too many that were too easily lead and ( ).
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So they lead them to bankruptcy, to near bankruptcy.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, we had fifty thousand dollars in fund balance, which you're supposed to keep between eighteen and twenty percent of what it takes to operate. Which means that you need about two and one-half million dollars. And we had fifty thousand dollars.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
That sounds like my billfold.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. Sounds like mine, too. [Laughter]
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
I'll see you tomorrow, Steve.
STEVE HOLLAND:
All right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay, let's go back to the FEMA office now. You went in there, you saw these trainees and people. Where did they set up the office, and how many people where there, and how long did they stay?

Page 35
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, they're still here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
In fact, I think they're getting ready to extend it another month.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's right. January fifteenth.
STEVE HOLLAND:
They were in the corner building, in the Westwood Building when I went to see them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that in downtown Burgaw?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum. Right across from the court house.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And you couldn't ask for nicer people to talk with. The, the ones that wrote all the letters that said you don't qualify for anything are not the people that were here that you dealt with. They were the bureaucrats sitting in Washington, or in Atlanta, or somewhere else.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So these people come down here and they sit in that office, or do they go out around and look at your homes, or what do they—.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, these people sit in the office. And you go in and you fill out all these forms and papers and stuff. And then they tell you whether you qualify for FEMA or whether you qualify or you don't. You get a letter on it. And—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
They just process the papers and send them to Washington or Atlanta.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Right. So the ones that you deal with here are not the ones that give you the final okay. I just did my final on the store loan last week, and a lawyer from the SBA came for the closing. And I was lucky, because the law firm that I've always used had all the records and everything of what I'd bought, and how much I owed, and all this. So it

Page 36
wasn't quite as hard on me. But they came down, and I had everything filled out that needed to be filled out. Most people, and what I had to do was go to my lawyer and to my accountant for the answers to a lot of the questions, because I didn't understand it. The red tape involved in qualifying, the insurance, the, I mean, the average person, including myself, could never figure out. You know, when you would go and sit with these people, and say, "Okay. I don't understand this." You might never get the assistance that you're looking for. Because you don't have the assets, or the time, or know who to go to, because all these people charge you when you go to them and ask them for advice. You know, "What do I need to do here?" They have to be paid. Well, if you've lost everything you had, how do you pay this?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You mean as in lawyers and so forth?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. I mean, how do you do all these things, buy insurance and stuff, if you don't have any money? You know, there's got to be a better system as far as at least coming up with a reasonable amount of money that you can get to start with to get your life started back. And then work into your long-term goals or whatever. But it's, I mean, there is no program that I knew of that you walk in, except a certain group of people—somebody was told that they were giving away seven thousand dollars. I have a guy—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Per family, is that what you mean?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And, I was like, "Seven thousand dollars. Now how did you qualify for that?" And these were either farmers or, I mean, all of them were just like I was. Well, why do they qualify and I don't? I'm still out of my house, you know, so why do I not

Page 37
qualify? And it's not that I'm looking for the easy way to get out. But it seems like a lot of us got letters saying we didn't qualify for anything. And the ones that don't pay taxes, and don't do anything, and don't work, all they had to do was just sit there and it just rolled in. And we're the ones that's paying the taxes and giving them the money to use. But yet we don't qualify for anything. Well, it doesn't matter whether you're a millionaire or whether you make ten thousand dollars a year. When you lose everything, you've lost it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right.
STEVE HOLLAND:
It doesn't matter, it's just a different set of numbers. But when you lose, you lose, you know. So I don't see how one can qualify any better than the other one. But in the programs that they've got set up, they, when I got to my mother's house after I got out of the hospital, there was a check there for three hundred and fifty-four dollars for assistance.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
For her?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, for me. She lives in Wilmington.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
For me, for being out of my home. And then about, and so I called and asked them what it was for because I hadn't put in for anything because I was in the hospital at the time. And they said, "Well, that's for, we understand you flooded, your house flooded, and all this." And I said, "Yeah." "So this is to help you rent a place or get your place started back." And I'm like, huh? Three hundred and fifty-four dollars. Let's see my mortgage payment is eight hundred and fifty a month. There's no housing left in

Page 38
Pender County to rent. because we didn't have any housing to start with. So where, with three hundred and fifty-four dollars, where am I going to go live? And how am I—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's a one-time payment, that's not—.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, see, I, and they told me that I, if, if—that they might want the money back in the loan. If this money is not used for that, then they might want the money back. And I'm like, huh? [Sigh of exasperation.] And then the next letter—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Where are you living?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, my farm—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
—had forty inches of water in it, and I'm running two humidifiers trying to draw water out of the walls. But when, there were steam cleaners, some friends of mine, and gutted it, as far as, we didn't have to tear the boards off, but steam clean it. And then the furniture, I only got about ten, eleven inches up here in this house. So it only got up on, it didn't ruin all the furniture at my house. So I had to throw all that furniture away down there, and I moved the furniture out of this house down there to have a place to live. Which I didn't do for the first month because it took that long to get it cleaned up. So I lived in Wilmington and drove back and forth.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you were just saying about, so you got that one letter that said you might have to pay it back. And then you were getting ready to say something about another letter.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, and then the next letter I got was that you don't qualify for any assistance from FEMA. So I'm like, all right. So that's when I went to the bank because I

Page 39
didn't figure I was going to quality. Well, the, my bank comes out here on a Thursday and says, "Well, ( )." I told you about what I thought it was going to cost.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Which bank is that? Is it a local bank?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. Bank of America. It was NationsBank.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. Right. That's ( ), too.
STEVE HOLLAND:
I couldn't ask for better people to deal with than them. I had six or seven loans with them. I pay off my loans early. I mean, this loan I'm getting, I, if I get my money back that I've already spent here, I borrowed eighty thousand dollars a year, a year and two months ago. And I was going to pay it off this January. Which the bank probably doesn't like it as much as I do. But, you know, instead of taking and spending the money, or putting it in retirement, I believe that you retire your debts first. And then when, this year was going to be, finally, where I could start saving toward retirement. Which ain't going to happen now.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, can I ask you a few questions about Pender County and, I mean, there are some people who don't know anything about it, I'm sure. Maybe a little bit of history of the county. The types of people who moved here. And then what's changing. You talked about development, and so forth. Would you tell a little story about how it was when you were growing up? What people were doing for a living.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, when I was growing up there wasn't nothing but farming here. There was no industry of any kind. And there's still not hardly any industry.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What kind of farming?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Tobacco, corn, soy beans, blueberries, strawberries, and that still continues here. They've about cut out all the tobacco farming. They just cut them yesterday

Page 40
seventeen more percent. They cut them, I think, twenty percent last year. So, they're just about wiping out the tobacco farmer. And there's not any crop that you can grow that will give you the return that tobacco does.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Not even blueberries?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, nothing. Plus, it takes certain land to grow blueberries, strawberries, or anything else. It's, and there's not that much of that type land around. But, for years and years, all the taxes just about was derived from farming, one way or another. Other than farming, you went out of the county to work. My father worked for Big Star Colonial for thirty-forty years.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In Wilmington?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum. And he drove back and forth, I guess, from the time I was like five or six until I was thirteen, he drove back and forth from outside of Currie. Finally, back then he was working six and seven days a week. So, finally they decided they needed to move to Wilmington to be closer to his job. And we did.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I see.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Farming up until, oh gosh, I guess it really started changing about fifteen years ago. It, farming started taking a back seat to tourism. Not on a grand scale to start with, but it's changing a lot more now.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You go all the way to the coast, right? And it takes in certain beaches down there.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Surf City and Topsail Beach, and then you got Hampstead which is more of a retirement community now. There are a lot of Northerners moving down along the coast area for retirement. It used to be that this side of the county paid the majority of taxes

Page 41
through farming. Now our tax base is growing faster on the east side. And our base is going downhill over here because it's—now we have Rocky Point that's growing by leaps and bounds.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's here?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah, that's, it's going toward Wilmington. It's the border line.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It's a golf community?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, no. It's not a golf community, but it's going to end up being that.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
A lot, Pender County is like the third largest county in the state, area-wise. But a lot of our money now is coming from the Northerners moving into the eastern part of the county which is the beach area. We also, the tourism is growing by leaps and bounds. Because we have Topsail Beach and Surf City. This side of the county, we're finally getting a few smaller plants in here, but no DuPont's, or GE's or anything like that. We're kind of becoming a bedroom community for New Hanover. New Hanover has most of the industry. It also has a large tourism. And a lot of people in Wilmington are moving out into the suburbs, which is the rural part of Pender County.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Hum.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Taxes are a lot cheaper up here compared with New Hanover.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What's—?
STEVE HOLLAND:
It's a wonderful place to live.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What's your tax rate, say, compared to Wilmington?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, the tax rate here is sixty-one cent. And I'm not sure what it is in Wilmington, but, just like the property value. If you took my house, where it was sitting

Page 42
on the water in Wilmington, it would be worth seven hundred thousand dollars. Sitting up here it's worth a hundred and eighty thousand dollars. That's where the difference is. The values are so much higher down there. My mother still lives down there. And they took her into the city a few years ago, and her taxes this year, county and city, were almost twelve hundred dollars. And ten years ago they were four hundred dollars. So it's quite a big jump. But New Hanover, like I say, Pender is more of a bedroom community on this side of the county. More and more people want space, which means we're doing more developments. Which is, we're killing our watersheds. What we really need to do in Pender County is get a lot more serious over having more planned development and have better green spaces, better watersheds, where they have to come up with the plans before they are allowed to build. And we're seeing the damage that's happening by not having long-range planning. We keep talking about it, and we keep working at it, but it's grown so fast that it's hard to beat it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The stereotypical Republican at the state level is usually anti environmental regulation, against those policies. That's the stereotype, right? But you're not that way at all. You're obviously a Republican who cares about the environment and even wants to put in land use planning and so forth, regulations. Is that—?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, our chairman, who just got elected, is a woman. And she's a Republican. And she has done everything in the world to try to get the rest of the county commissioners, we have three of them, to do something. In fact, Mr. Connors here is on the planning board. That we, to free them up, to give them more time to save this county. Jim and I hunt together. And Jim is also on the planning board. He's a farmer. And he's a retired pilot of USAir. And he lost his home. And these two houses right next door

Page 43
were rental houses, the two red ones. They ( ). It's kind of devastated him, too. But, the problem is, we've grown so fast that our planning department, we've got so many special use permits coming before us, they can't work on a long-time planning, or long-range planning. And we've got to do something about our watersheds and all. But, Jim's just like me. We enjoy the outdoors. We're both sportsmen. We have been all our lives. We hunt. We fish. And we want our kids and grand kids to be able to enjoy the things we had. And I don't think it matters whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, if you don't care about your environment, there's something wrong with you, you know. And I know that a lot of Republicans ( ), well they're the rich ones, and they all say, all they care about is the money. Well, I don't think that's right. I think there's a lot of good Republicans out ( ).
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
I ain't no Republican.
STEVE HOLLAND:
I know. You're a Democrat. [Laughter] But I think, big business, you know, not all of them's for big business. It's like Pender County, I don't, I'm not—they keep telling us that we need more industry, more industry. And we're at two percent unemployment. So, wait a minute, boys and girls. You bring more industry in here you're just taking away from one, you know, you're fighting over the same employees. When the employment rate goes up, then you need more industry or you need more jobs, or something. But we're at two percent right now in Pender County. Where are you going to find the labor to put them, unless you steal from one of these other companies, you know. And all that does is drive up the cost of goods.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you just want to manage well what you have instead of—.

Page 44
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. If we could manage what we've got, we could do all right. The problem is that we're not doing all that great a job managing what we got. Like I say, development is one of our things. They're getting ready to put a new one in right on the other side of Burgaw. And, where are they going to run the water? They don't have anywhere for the run off to go now. But yet, they just approved, what is it, a thousand over there, units?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
Well, either a thousand or twelve hundred.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah, and they didn't even make them come up with a ( ) waters plan, I mean a drainage plan or anything. I'm like, wait a minute boys. And this is in the town of Burgaw, this isn't the county.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
Look at what it's going to do to the school.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh, yeah. It cost eight hundred dollars a child in Pender County to educate, one a year. My house, about a thousand dollars a year is what I pay. But we've got, probably, two thirds of our neighbors live in trailers. And their taxes are seventy, eighty dollars a year. And they got three kids they're putting in the school system. How do you pay for it?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And you don't want to raise taxes.
STEVE HOLLAND:
No. Well, you know, right now they've got a big commotion going on in the state about giving the school boards the right to levy taxes for schools. Well, listen, that would make me so happy I wouldn't know what to do, to put that monkey on their back. Because the monkey is on the commissioners' backs right now. And, which, myself, it really doesn't matter to me whether I get elected again. I just won the last election. My opponent spent ten thousand dollars, and I spent three hundred. He went to everything

Page 45
that you could go to. [Laughter] And I ran on my record. I said, "Listen. If I'm doing a good job, vote for me. If I'm not, don't vote for me." You know, I'm not going to go out and put up posters. I'm not going to go out and politic, because I'm not a politician. I don't like politicians. Plus, I don't go to any of the stuff that everybody goes to, because I'm scared it would rub off on me and I'd start acting like them. [Laughter] I look at being a county commissioner one way: it is either right for the county or its wrong. I don't even look to see whether it is white, black, yellow or green. If it's right, you vote yes. If it's wrong, you vote no. And it must of worked, because they re-elected me.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
By a pretty good percentage?
STEVE HOLLAND:
What?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Was it by a pretty good percentage this time?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Twelve hundred votes.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Um-hum. Significant. Well, how about these Northerners who are coming down. How do they stand politically? What do they want out of the county, or are they helping, or—?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, in fact, two guys from the beach were in here not long ago and talking about them damn Yankees.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Um-hum.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And I said, "I'm going to explain something to you all that you probably don't know." If it wasn't for all them Yankees moving down here—the one thing that happens is, they move down here. They build a home, two hundred, three hundred thousand dollar house. They're retirees. They have no children. They don't need social services, and they don't need the health department. The only thing they ask for is good

Page 46
police protection. And they think our tax rate is so low it's a laugh. So, I said, its the people moving in here that's got the kids, most of them are moving in on this side of the county. They're filling up our schools.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And why are they moving here?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, most of them are going to work in New Hanover County. Like I said, this is going to be a bedroom community, is what it's setting up. But, what they don't understand is, if it wasn't for them Yankees, our tax rate would be two dollars and something, because the school system would need that much more money, if it wasn't for all these Northerners coming here. And the local people need to realize how much they put into this economy as far as tax-wise. Now, a lot of them don't want to hear it, but it's the truth. They come down here, and they're looking for a nice, green place to live. And they play golf, boat, or whatever, and they don't ask for hardly anything. But they pay them taxes. Every time you send them a bill, they write a check and send it in. Well, that's what's paying for our school's education right now. Because they don't bring kids down here because they're all retired. Their kids are up and gone, you know. You know, it would be nice to go back to the way it was thirty years ago, where Hampstead was a quaint little village, and, you know, everybody was farming, and we all were doing well. Problem is, times have changed.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, if you have a few more minutes, I'd like talk about how farming has changed. We hear a lot about, particularly because of the flood, hogs, pollution. I mean, you said, everybody thirty years ago were farming, was a farmer, and, things weren't polluted then. Is anything changing? Maybe there really isn't pollution as a result of the farming.

Page 47
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, there is some pollution from farming, in fact, Jim's a hog farmer. But, the thing that people don't understand, every lagoon had to be approved by the state. They said, This is what you need to do to be safe and not hurt our environment." So that's something what them boys did. It was all approved by the state. Well, they come in. They build the hog farms. They build the lagoon. Now, all of a sudden, what really happened is this circle we got into as far as the weather, and, I mean—I never remember when I was growing up of having twenty-one inches of rain. Or fifteen inches of rain in twenty-four hours, and stuff like this. All of a sudden we're going through this period of time where it, those lagoons, when they did it, it was based on rainfall, the levels that you had to keep, and all that. Well, nobody ever expected for, all of a sudden, bam. You're going to have a shower drop through and drop eight inches of rain in four hours. I mean, we just never had any of that in Eastern North Carolina. So, and your older farms are phasing out now, the ones that couldn't do the—what was it, oh—two thousand, Jim? Well, a lot of them couldn't upgrade. So they were going out of business anyway. They had X amount of years, and then—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
These are hogs or turkeys, or what?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Hogs. Hogs. Turkeys are a little different thing.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
All right.
STEVE HOLLAND:
The main thing you've got to do with turkeys is have a place to get rid of the litter. Well, like my farm, that's all I use is litter. He brings it down in a truck, spreads it, and I ditch it in that day. Well, the animals love it. It puts up some pretty corn, or pretty beans, or whatever you plant. That old turkey mess will do the trick. And there's a lot of farmers around that do use it as fertilizer. But the hog thing, I think that Pender County,

Page 48
we're not hurt that bad by hog farmers. Because, just like Jim, he's got a brand new operation, what, three years old, four years old? And he hasn't had any problems. He's got enough pasture land to spread them and keep it off. The state is the one that messed up with the regulations. Because they didn't, well, and we didn't see what the weather patterns were going to do, you know. And all of a sudden our weather patterns changed and that had a lot to do with it. But now, it's all of a sudden, it's all their fault. Every bit of pollution that happens, it's all their fault. Well, like I say, Jim got out here, been in this flood, and made a raft around his hog farm, and rafted the hogs that died in it. They brought incinerators in and burned them right there on the spot. None of his got out and floated down the river, down the creek. None of them ended up in our woods out here. What did we have, only two lagoons in Pender County that overflowed?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
Three.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Three.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
They didn't overflow. The river went over them.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yeah. But, now, Duplin County. I think they over did it, building too many hog farms up there, Sampson County. But Pender County, somebody, being a commissioner, boy, I've had to listen to it all.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I'll bet.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And, I got, Jim's got, let's see, one, two, three, four, what five houses down here?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
Yeah.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And they're less than half a mile from this restaurant. They never bothered this restaurant. It's, but a lot of it's got to do with who the farmer is.

Page 49
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Management.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yep. Jim goes out of his way to make sure it's done right. We got, we got one neighbor around here, I want to give him a kick in the butt, and I hope to put him out of business because he's not a good farmer. And maybe this hurricane might have cleaned his, they might buy him out now. Because he was too close to the creek anyway. But—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's what they're doing with some of the hog farmers, buying them out?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Not to relocate, just buying them out, period.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, and problem is, is like Jim, Jim could probably qualify on the one that he had, like down the road. But, what they want to give him only pays off the house. What is that, the amount of money that you make for the next then years, or whatever, it's, it goes right back to being fair. You know, if you want to take something away from somebody, or you want to give them something, be fair about it. And a lot of times state and federal are not. And the county is not, we can't, we don't generate enough money to be able to, I mean, we had to chip into these pipes they're putting under I-40 now, because three industries there have flooded twice now. So, one of the solutions was to put bigger pipes under I-40. I-40 worked like a dam. Well, it helped a lot. They still flooded last time, but where the water was up like six days after Fran, the water was only up about twelve hours and then it pushed on through. But, the county had to come up with a hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars of the seven hundred thousand dollars to put the ( ) pipes in. Well, you know, I don't believe in property taxes, because I don't think it's fair. I think there ought to be a national sales tax, or state sales tax that takes

Page 50
all, I mean, why should you have to pay for something all your life after you've finished making payments? You know, when can you actually own something? And that way, everybody would have to pay the same tax. It would be fair. But instead, it's put on property taxes so if you want anything, then you never own it. My mother is still paying taxes on her house, and they've had it paid for for fifteen years. She doesn't ( ). She doesn't use social services. She doesn't use any of that. And still, she doesn't own her home. If she doesn't pay them taxes—.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
STEVE HOLLAND:
Here. I just paid my taxes for this store, the farm, and everything, fifty-seven hundred dollars I paid this year in property tax. The problem is, everything, when I get it paid for, I'm still going to be paying that fifty-seven, or sixty-seven, or whatever the taxes go to. So, it's never, it's never going to actually be mine. It's going to be mine and the county's.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And if you don't pay it, all of it is the county's.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh yeah.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Just for not paying it.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And it's not right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And they keep saying it's going help the, hurt the poor. But, I hate to tell you this boys and girls, but the poor don't pay any taxes. When they go to the grocery store, and they pass out those chits, they don't pay any taxes. And if you're below a certain income in this county, we forgive you your taxes on your property if you live in a house.

Page 51
And all states do it, not, all counties do it, not just us. But if you're below a certain level, then you don't pay any taxes. So, how is it going to hurt the poor person, because they're not paying any taxes any way. The middle class is paying the majority of the taxes. They keep saying, "Well, let's make the rich people pay all these taxes." Well, are you going to take one-and-a-half percent of the population and you think they can carry the rest of it? They ain't that many rich people in this world. You know, and everybody thinks of the DuPonts, and all them. Well, if you didn't give them tax deductions, who's going to create the jobs? You know, it's just stupidity.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So, who's carrying Pender County, then?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Pender County, nobody's carrying it. You know, it's just like—we have a hundred dollars a year solid waste fee. Well, if you make below a certain amount, you don't have to pay that. But I have to pay it on my farm, my house, the campground and the store. But yet, I have a dumpster sitting back here, and so that's four hundred dollars a year I pay the county, and not one piece of my trash goes in the dump down here. I pay two hundred and fifty-eight, two hundred and fifty-two dollars and eighty-eight cent a month for that dumpster sitting out there, and that's where all the garbage goes from my place, and I'm paying to dispose of it. But I still have to give the county four hundred dollars for solid waste. But if you make less than a certain amount of money, you don't have to pay that solid waste fee. You don't have to pay any property taxes.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you're saying those are the same people who FEMA helped?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Not only them, but a lot that didn't deserve it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Um-hum.

Page 52
STEVE HOLLAND:
I shouldn't tell this story, but we just went through it, with the county, and I was the culprit on most of it—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, maybe you can leave out the names, or something, in telling it.
STEVE HOLLAND:
We'll it's CB, CB, B, is that what it is?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
What?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Grant money.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:
I don't know what it is.
STEVE HOLLAND:
It's for helping low income families and old people. We did a program up here in Maple Hill, spent seven hundred and fifty thousand, did thirty-one houses, and these were people with no electricity, or outdoor plumbing, and every one of them were Blacks. Which, there wasn't any whites that qualified right there in that area. So then, we finished that project and we put in for another one. So, we're doing it at Rocky Point. Well, they had twenty-one houses that qualified. And everything was going along fine, and all of a sudden, we found out that one family has got seventeen of the houses. And one of the things that I'm against is fixing rental property. If you, if you yourself is renting it, then you ought to pay to have it fixed. Well, one of our commissioners, happens to be Black, seventeen of them came to him. Eleven of them were his nieces and nephews. Nine of them were rental property. And they spent to the tune of three hundred and thirty thousand dollars on his family out of five hundred and ten thousand dollars. And had six more qualify. That's where your tax dollars is going.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And you all found out about it, and what happened then?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, our federal government says it's not a conflict of interest if it's a need for ( ). But, the company that was administrating it, you can't, the way it works is that

Page 53
they have to do title searches and find out who owns the land and all. Well, they didn't do any of that. They just went and somehow, you know, came up with this list of people. And they'd worked on, they'd done eleven of them when we found out about it. Six more of them were brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, and stuff like that, which is a conflict of interest. But supposedly they hadn't started on those. Well, the company resigned. And took all the blame. So, my commissioner, that I'm sitting on the board with is still sitting there and eleven of his family members got their house remodeled ( ) for rental property.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
This is before FEMA, of course, before the flood. But similar things, you're saying, are happening as a result of FEMA's aid. People who don't pay taxes have gone in—.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, even the one's that's paying taxes. If you go down there, and say you were on the other side of the river bridge, none of that between there and I-40 flooded.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And you go down there, in fact, a couple that works for me, and he's legally blind and deaf and he's been working for me for four years. And his wife, and she's legally, I mean she has to walk with, she's got braces on, and they work for me in the mornings. They go down there to get some bottled water, and they had to fill out three sheets of paper. And twenty-five people walked passed them, and go over there, and just pick up cases of food, water, and everything, and load it in the back of the car. And they drive off.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Had they already filled out those papers, or what's the difference?
STEVE HOLLAND:
They didn't fill out nothing.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Huh.

Page 54
STEVE HOLLAND:
But they had to fill out two sheets, or three sheets, of paper to get three gallons of water.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did they get their water.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Yep. After they filled out the three sheets.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
They obviously came back and talked about it.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh yeah. They went to FEMA, too, and said, "I don't understand this. We stayed there two hours filling out forms to get three jugs of water. And these cars just backed up here just loaded with cases and cases of food and water." And they weren't even in the flood area.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I knew you would know some of those stories from the local level, county management. But it was not the county as much as—.
STEVE HOLLAND:
They're federal. They're federal programs.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Federal and state, but they're administrated through social services.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And social services' employees are state employees, or are they county and state?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, they're county, state, and federal employees. The federal pays a certain amount of their salaries, state pays a certain amount, and the county pays a certain amount.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
As with county extension, and so forth.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum.

Page 55
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, before we end, tell us about what kind of experiences people have when they come here to your cabins, and so forth. Why do they come, and what kind of food do you serve? I don't think I got that on tape at all. You told us earlier.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, we serve—people who come to the cabins, mostly, are, I guess you'd call it yuppies. You know, that work in Raleigh, Greensboro, Wilmington, wherever. And they come down and stay a couple of days, or come in on Friday, leave on Sunday. They'll go canoeing. We have a drop off service, or we did until our van went under water. [Laughter] Where we take you up the creek six miles, and then you canoe back to here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's the furthest extent you can go, six miles?
STEVE HOLLAND:
No. We got one other place, but what we found out, ninety percent ours are novices. Because, most of your experienced canoers or anything, they've got their own boats. And we've hauled quite a few. There's another place up that's twelve miles. So we've done some hauling for other people, too. But we've done Boy Scouts, Four-H Club, church groups. And for children, is what we've mostly been dealing with, about four, three to four hours is about as long as you can have them sit in a boat. And then over here we sell hunting and fishing supplies, and tee-shirts, and hats, and that. And we serve catfish, and frog legs, and shrimp creole, and catfish, too, and then all your seafood, deviled crab, clam strips, flounder. Then we also serve hamburgers, and pork chops and stuff like that. But the main thing that's sold here is seafood.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you cook, yourself?
STEVE HOLLAND:
I used to do all the cooking. I'm probably getting ready to start doing a lot of the cooking again. But, I got some good people to work for me, and been with me a long

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time. But if we get back up, then I'm the main cook. I know how to make it come out and make it look good every time, and taste right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now if we were to come back here and go canoeing and then come back for a meal, what would you say would be your specialty.
STEVE HOLLAND:
It's all specialty. [Laughter] Everything at Holland's a specialty. We got a thing called a creek burger, which is a, its a quarter pound burger, but it's got provolone cheese and ham and all. There ain't no telling how many thousands and thousands of them things we've sold. One of my neighbors came up with it, and said "Put that ham onto there. I want a piece of that." And it ended up tasting good. We put it on the menu. It's called a creek burger.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is it country ham did you say, or just boiled ham?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Boiled ham. But if you ever eat seafood here, you won't ever eat anywhere else. I mean it's—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is it fresh from the coast?
STEVE HOLLAND:
What?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The seafood.
STEVE HOLLAND:
No, it's quick freeze and IQF. Do you know what IQF is?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
No.
STEVE HOLLAND:
For years and years people put seafood and ( ). For one thing, seafood is seasonal. So you can't find fresh seafood year around. And you can't do business unless you can continue to have it. You put a piece of fish in your freezer. What it does is freezes from the inside out. As it freezes it pushes all the nutrients and all the juices out. IQF, it goes on a conveyer belt, and freezes from the outside in. So the day that thing

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comes in on a boat, they put it in an IQ machine. It runs through this belt, and it takes, probably, less than a minute and a half, and it's froze from the outside in. Freezes all the juices inside of it. When you thaw it out, all your juice and stuff is still there. The fish is moist just like it was when you caught it. And you can't tell, because I've tried it here with catfish and stuff. I took IQF and then I'd take fresh catfish, and I'd cook it side by side. And then give it to somebody and say, "See if you can tell me which one is which." You can't tell. And the same way with shrimp and stuff like that. I just ordered, what I do, I book my shrimp by the year. And I booked, what? Gosh, what was it? Eight hundred cases. Yeah, eight hundred cases, forty thousand pounds that I will use in about an eleven-and-a-half month period.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You told us how many oysters, too. How many?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Forty, forty—well, according to the time of year, but the average for the year is fifty gallons a week.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And that's shucked oysters.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Um-hum. You use probably ten to twelve cases of catfish a week, which is basically like a hundred and eighty pounds a week of nothing but catfish fillets.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Speaking of the local economy, and so forth, and farming, are any of those able, is any local supplier able to provide any of those?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, we had a catfish farm over on 421, and his problem was he couldn't find enough people to grow. We're right at the break even, as far as climate. Catfish take eighteen months here to grow out to where they weigh about three pounds, which you end up with a—where you can get enough for your fillets off of. In Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and all, their turn around is twelve months. So it's a lot most expensive feeding

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wise and all to grow them here than it is to grow them down there. But we have a place up in Ayden, North Carolina, which flooded out during this, but he was the largest producer in North Carolina. And I bought from him. And for three or four years I bought nothing but fresh fish, between these two plants. And they'd deliver them to me every day. But they just, like I say that got flooded up there, so I don't know what's going to happen to it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that person trying to go back and—.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Oh, I'm sure he is.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I mean, do you have his name? Maybe we could get in touch with him sometime.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Carolina Classics is the name of the company.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. Okay.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And they also have a restaurant and all, right next—plus, they got, I think, forty some farmers growing for them, too.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And where is that?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Up near Ayden. But they also raise beef, and serve their own beef and the catfish, right in their own restaurant.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Sounds good. But in terms of the seafood, that doesn't come from the Pender County area?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, the oysters come from here at certain times of the year.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh, they do.
STEVE HOLLAND:
And the catfish could come from this area. But you're shrimp, most of them come from the Gulf. North Carolina doesn't produce enough shrimp to furnish a third of

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the restaurants in North Carolina. We don't have that many shrimp off our coast any more. We don't have the flounder. They only have a fourteen—or fifteen—day season on flounder now in North Carolina. Most of our flounder comes from Argentina. A lot of your oysters come from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi. Certain times of the year you'll get some North Carolina ones, or South Carolina, or Georgia.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that more results of over development and pollution?
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, see, just like Georgia. If you go down there, you don't see a bunch of houses built on the waterway, so you don't have the pollution. You don't have the run off and all. North Carolina is real bad about, our state government has been real bad letting—filling in wet lands. And Federal government's let them slide a lot of times when they shouldn't have. But building all these developments and all. And asphalt, a lot of oil, I mean, you're talking about a lot of oil. Our oyster areas, they're destroying. You know, the, one of the big things out of this flood, and Floyd, Fran, too, was they were talking about it was killing Pamlico, which is the largest body of, for shrimp and oysters and everything else on the whole east coast. But the run off coming down from the Tar River and coming down the Neuse, that it was destroying it. But I have a friend that's got a house up at ( ), and after the flood, you know, about a month later, he said there was more fish than you knew what to do with. He said. And they talk about how bad the water was up there. They had one of the biggest bumper crops this year they ever had. And clams, and crab and stuff. And he said, "Where's all this pollution they keep talking about?" Because it was such a magnitude of water up there. I mean, it would be hard to pollute it. Where, our little creeks running out of, down in our area here, it's not hard to pollute them, especially when they go subdivisions all the way around the creek.

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Everybody raises hell about septic tanks on the creeks and rivers. Septic tanks, a little bit's going to seep in the water, but the majority of it is locked in that septic system. It's not an open system. Like when the flood happened, you just can't use it but all that shit don't come out of that tank. It stays right there in the ground. When the water finally gets down below them lines, then it filters out, but it filters out into a drain field. And there were a few idiots that had, years ago, you know, that ran their commodes right into the creek and stuff like that. But, hell, like I said, it would be like me peeing I in that creek and saying it's polluting it. Back then there wasn't many people on the creek shores. Now there's getting to be more and more. So you couldn't allow any of that stuff to go on.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, let's close by saying what you think we need to do in terms of preparations and land use, and so forth, for the future. You've said a lot of it, maybe you could say sort of like what you would say as county commissioner. Here's what we need to do.
STEVE HOLLAND:
Well, we just need long-range planning. There's nothing wrong with development, but make sure that they leave plenty of green areas. They have to come up with a drainage plan before we give them any permits. Not give them a permit and then say, "Oh, okay. Well, that's not any big deal." We need to have stricter regulations, where we don't pollute our creeks, our waters, and our oyster areas. And I guess we were so happy to see people come here, because farming has gone down hill so far. We were losing our tax base is what happened. And so, consequently, our past commissioners, a lot of them, just kind of said, "Oh, well, this development is more important than worrying about that creek out there." Well, he's biting his own tail in the long run. Well,

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just long-range planning the most important step. And, you know, it's just like the guy that developed my place right around the corner where my house is, he came up here, bought land cheap, put a road down in there and sold lots. When he got most of it sold, you know, somebody would call him, and he'd come show you a lot once in a while. Now our road's blown out halfway, and we're stuck, because half of the neighbors will chip in, but the other half won't put a nickel in to keep the road up. He should have been made to keep the road up or pave it when it was put in. If he'd added another five hundred dollars a lot, or thousand dollars a lot, it wouldn't have made any difference. He have still sold them, but then you could have gotten in and out of there any time. But instead, the road's blown out right now. I've probably hauled fifty loads of dirt in there over the last four or five years, building it up. And some of my neighbors help, but the majority of them didn't. If he was made to do it to start with, as they are now, if you have over five lots, then you have to pave, you have to have a ditching, you know, but we still haven't got to the point where a drainage program and all. And that's where we need to be heading now.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. Well, thank you very much. That's a big education for me.
END OF INTERVIEW