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More money!

WASHINGTON, DC – North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr announced Tuesday that North Carolina has been awarded an additional $189 million to go towards Hurricane Matthew recovery.

These funds were secured by the North Carolina delegation in the Senate budget agreement passed in February. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Tuesday that North Carolina would receive $168 million in disaster mitigation grants and the Department of Transportation announced North Carolina would receive $21 million in disaster assistance. The funding is critical for eastern North Carolina’s long-term recovery efforts.

In total, North Carolina has been awarded over $1.4 billion in federal funds through Congressional appropriations and grants.

Bertie County officials were delighted at the news, but admit the process has been fraught with delays.

“All of our Commissioners and especially Chairman (Ernestine) Bazemore have continually made the case that Bertie County has a lot of unmet needs and so many of those needs are for the families whose homes were impacted,” said Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer. “We can only hope that some of these dollars will help bridge the gap either on the buyout program or to stay; we are working on the process.”

Back in Washington, both North Carolina senators say they will continue to work on what is still a long process of unfinished business.

“Hurricane Matthew caused billions of dollars in damages and forced many families across eastern North Carolina from their homes,” said Tillis. “I have worked with Senator Burr and the state’s Congressional delegation on a bipartisan basis to ensure North Carolina receives the federal assistance it needs for ongoing recovery efforts. I want to thank the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation for allocating nearly $190 million in additional funds, which will go a long way in helping our local communities recover and ensure North Carolina’s families are not forgotten.”

Sauer does say that a lot of the monies that have already been allocated for the state still have yet to come through the regulatory process controlled by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

“Additional monies will certainly help with the recovery of Hurricane Matthew for the citizens of Bertie County,” said Commissioners chairman Bazemore. “There are many unmet needs from which we are still struggling to recover, with many still trying to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Funding, no matter the level, is always needed and appreciated.”

“Tuesday’s announcements from both these agencies are another step forward to getting North Carolinians back on their feet after the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew,” said Senator Burr. “Our congressional delegation came together to urge Washington to meet its responsibility to our citizens and I’m pleased with what we accomplished.”

The latest allocated funds are provided through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program and U.S. Department of Transportation Emergency Relief Program and will address seriously damaged housing, businesses and infrastructure most affected from Hurricane Matthew.

This additional CDBG-DR funding adds to the $236,500,000 that the NC Congressional delegation has secured in past spending bills. Immediately following Hurricane Matthew, $198.5 million was allocated in the December 9, 2016 Continuing Resolution and the remaining $37.96 million was authorized in the May 5, 2017 Continuing Resolution and allocated in two separate statewide tranches: $6,114,000 in May 2017 and $31,862,000 in July 2017.

“Our current CDBG-DR project underway here in Bertie County is $770,500 for Bertie County,” added Sauer. “The way the formula works this is going to help assist two homes for reconstruction, and four properties for substantial rehabilitation. We have many more property owners on the list.”

CDBG-DR grants support a variety of disaster recovery activities, including housing redevelopment and rebuilding, business assistance, economic revitalization, and infrastructure repair. Grantees are required to spend the majority of these recovery funds in the “most impacted” areas as identified by HUD. HUD will issue administrative guidelines shortly for use of the funds to address grantees’ long-term recovery needs, particularly in the area of housing recovery.

“Right now the million dollars allocated by the state will help 17 low-to-moderate income families, while the large grant (Hazard Mitigation Program) worked out between the county and the town of Windsor will be for 34 homes acquired in the buyout and at least 11 more homes elevated,” Sauer continued. “We actually believe that money can be stretched and help additional folks.

“We’ve got a longer list than we have dollars’ programs to assist folks. We hope the dollars start being channeled to folks here in Bertie because we’re following all the guidelines, working through all the processes, but it is still a very painstaking exercise, particularly for the families that are directly impacted,” Sauer acknowledged. “Certainly this additional money from the federal government is greatly appreciated.”

Sauer added that he hopes after homeowners are assisted that more attention will be given to the businesses affected by the disaster.

“As we understand it, the monies go for residential properties, and even then only owner-occupied residential properties,” he noted. “But there are still a lot of citizens that are hurting.”