Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 00:00

Governor Cooper Awards Grants to Nonprofits Rebuilding Matthew-Damaged Homes Lumber River Flooding Study, Fairmont/Fair Bluff Water Treatment Also Get Recovery Funds

Jun 28, 2017

Nonprofits operating in 13 hard-hit North Carolina counties will get $810,000 to help volunteers rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew, Governor Roy Cooper said today during a visit to Robeson and Columbus counties.

Gov. Cooper announced the grants while visiting a flood-damaged home in Lumberton that was rebuilt by volunteers with the United Methodist Church.

“Volunteers, nonprofits, and faith groups are doing incredible work helping North Carolinians recover from Hurricane Matthew, and these grants will help continue their efforts,” Gov. Cooper said. “Recovering from Hurricane Matthew is a team effort, and I’m grateful to everyone who is pitching in to bring us back from this terrible storm.”

He also shared that approximately $70 million in federal disaster recovery money provided through Community Development Block Grants has been designated for Robeson County when available, mostly to repair and rebuild housing.

In addition, Gov. Cooper announced funding for research to reduce future flooding damage to Lumberton and funding to keep the waste water treatment plant serving nearby Fair Bluff and surrounding towns operational. He toured storm damage in Fair Bluff and met with local officials for an update on recovery progress.

Disaster Relief Grants

The grants are made possible by generous donations from the public to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund. Nonprofits were selected to receive grants based on applications reviewed by the Governor’s Office, the United Way of North Carolina, and North Carolina Emergency Management.

Gov. Cooper awarded the following grants:

  • NC Baptist Men will receive $343,000 to repair homes in Bertie, Duplin, Robeson, Sampson and Wayne counties.
  • NC Conference of the United Methodist Church will get $225,000 to repair homes in Cumberland and Edgecombe counties.
  • Lenoir Green United Way will receive $85,000 to help families with rental assistance, furniture and appliances, and other rebuilding needs.
  • United Way of Pitt County will get $82,000 to help with rebuilding homes and rental properties.
  • United Way of the Cape Fear will receive $50,000 to assist families, purchase building materials and pay contractors working on home repairs in Columbus and Pender Counties.
  • Albemarle Area United Way will receive $25,000 to help families and individuals with home repairs, furniture and appliances in Dare County.

Lumber River Flooding Study

Gov. Cooper also announced $100,000 to fund a study to help prevent future damage to Lumberton from Lumber River flooding.

“We want to learn why this flooding happened and what can keep it from happening again,” Gov. Cooper said. “This study can identify ways to protect Lumberton, keep its residents safe, and help flood insurance rates remain stable so homeowners and businesses can return.”

The City of Lumberton requested funding for the study, which will be conducted by a firm with expertise in flood plain mapping under the supervision of Emergency Management.

The study is expected to take approximately three months and will seek to document flooding causes, develop strategies to limit flood damage, and estimate costs for changes needed to protect Lumberton and its residents from future floods. The study will be comprehensive and will inform the best practice to prevent future flooding.

“In the past 20 years, North Carolina has seenan increase in the number and severity of floods that far too often destroy lives and property,” said Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks, whose department includes Emergency Management. “We’ve developed the best flood mapping program in the country and have been able to warn people when and where flooding will occur. Now we need to take it one step further: these studies will help us determine what and how we can minimize the flood’s impacts to communities along the river basin.”

Help for Fair Bluff

Gov. Cooper next visited the nearby town of Fair Bluff, another community hit hard by Hurricane Matthew’s floods, where he announced nearly $1 million in disaster recovery funds to help keep the wastewater system operating.

Gov. Cooper also shared that the legislature is in the process of approving $5 million to build new homes in Fair Bluff, through an appropriation to the Lumber River Council of Government.

He toured storm damage in Fair Bluff, reopened a boat ramp along the town’s River Walk, and met with local officials for an update on recovery progress.

“This grant will help keep the local waste water treatment system operating, a critical step toward Fair Bluff being able to recover,” Gov. Cooper said.

Hurricane Matthew devastated Fair Bluff in Columbus County, causing about a quarter of its businesses along with the revenue they generated to disappear and many residents to leave. The nearby Fairmont Wastewater Treatment Plant serves the town of Fair Bluff, along with the towns of Proctorville, Orrum, Cerro Gordo, and Boardman. Fairmont relies on revenue from the service it provides Fair Bluff to keep the treatment facility operating, and Fair Bluff’s financial troubles have put at risk wastewater treatment services for the entire area.

Gov. Cooper’s Disaster Recovery Office asked the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to assess the situation and recommend ways to keep the treatment facility operating. The result is nearly $1 million in disaster recovery funding so the system can continue to provide wastewater treatment for Fair Bluff and surrounding towns.

“Communities struggling economically since Hurricane Matthew can’t recover without reliable wastewater treatment, an important part of their infrastructure” said DEQ Secretary Michael Regan. “We’re excited to help Fair Bluff, Fairmont and the surrounding communities and hope this initiative will serve as a model for other North Carolina towns with similar issues.”

The initiative will use existing state resources along with $988,553 in Disaster Recovery Act of 2016 funds. The funds will also help with repairs to the system and plans to develop long-term solutions to lessen the impact future storms could have on the town's infrastructure and finances.

Gov. Cooper Continues to Push for Recovery Help

Hurricane Matthew flooded tens of thousands of homes and businesses in North Carolina and caused $4.8 billion in damage. More than $1 billion in state and federal funds have already been spent or designated for North Carolina recovery efforts, but more help is needed.

Gov. Cooper is working closely with the state’s congressional delegation and directly with US Housing and Urban Development to win additional federal recovery funds. He is also working with state legislators to secure additional state funds that are needed.

“Matthew ravaged half the counties in our state, and recovery can’t come soon enough for those hurt by the storm,” said Gov. Cooper. “Working together, we will help families, businesses, and communities across our state get back on their feet again.”