Governor Cooper meets with Edgecombe officials to Discuss Hurricane Matthew Recovery Governor visits Princeville Elementary School, business that recently reopened

Tarboro

Governor Roy Cooper today met with Edgecombe County leaders to push the process of helping families and communities recover from Hurricane Matthew and toured locations impacted by the storm.

Cooper met for a roundtable discussion with local leaders along with Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks, Director of Hurricane Recovery Dempsey Benton and N.C. Emergency Management (NCEM) Director Mike Sprayberry. The discussion focused on the progress made so far and continuing needs for hard-hit areas.

"Help is on the way for storm survivors and we're pulling together to get the job done," Gov. Cooper said. "We have more work ahead and we must use this opportunity to rebuild smart and strong for the future of our communities, businesses and schools."

Efforts to recover are yielding progress, Cooper said. Of the more than 600 roads closed across North Carolina following Matthew, all but 22 are now reopened. Hundreds of families have been able to return home or find other places to live.

But housing remains an immediate need for many families, Cooper said. More than 500 families remain in hotels five months after the storm dumped record rainfall in many communities, down from a total of more than 3,100 families. More families are expected to move out of hotels in coming days as they return home, relocate to rental housing or find other housing.

Disaster recovery has made clear a lack of affordable, available housing in eastern North Carolina that has hindered relocation efforts. In his State of the State address this week, Governor Cooper asked legislators to work with him to change legislation passed in 2013 to restore allowing the use of federal money for housing so eastern North Carolina can start to build its way out of this affordable housing shortage.

Half of the state has been approved for federal funding assistance to help individuals and small business owners recover and rebuild. Nearly 82,000 households have registered with FEMA requesting financial help. So far, FEMA has awarded $95.3 million in grants and the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved another $96.3 million in low-interest loans to help people rebuild their homes and businesses, get back to work and move on with their lives.

Two separate grants totaling more than $200 million recently announced will aid recovery efforts. A $4.5 million FEMA grant will pair case managers with some of the hardest-hit survivors to help them navigate the long and often complicated recovery process. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the state $198 million dollars – with $159 million of that specifically earmarked for Cumberland, Robeson, Edgecombe and Wayne counties – to help with housing, economic development, infrastructure and mitigation efforts that prevent future storm damage. Cooper also said that he is currently working on another Disaster Relief package to take to Congress.

Today Cooper toured local sites impacted by the storm, including Princeville Elementary School at the Bridger’s Building, which is accommodating children from the heavily damaged Princeville Elementary School, which remains out of service, and Southern States, a local business that was able to reopen just last week.

“The resilience of these students and teachers, these families and businesses, is proof that North Carolina will emerge from this disaster stronger,” Cooper said. “I’m grateful to the many state and local leaders, nonprofits and faith communities, and countless volunteers who are helping Hurricane Matthew survivors move forward in their recovery.”

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