Governor Cooper Meets with Wayne County Leaders on Hurricane Matthew Recovery Progress
Governor Roy Cooper met with Wayne County leaders today to discuss efforts to help families and communities recover from Hurricane Matthew and to learn more about ongoing needs.
Strong partnerships and innovative plans are helping families and businesses get back on track since Hurricane Matthew caused widespread flooding here and across the region, Governor Cooper said. “The devastation of places like Main Street here in Wayne County's Seven Springs, where nearly every home flooded, shows us that more must be done to help our neighbors recover from this storm;and be better prepared for the next one.
Governor Cooper is calling upon state and federal lawmakers to recognize the urgent need for additional resources in North Carolina communities affected by the storm. Earlier this month, he announced a request to Congress for nearly $1 billion in additional funding to address the $4.8 billion in damages caused by Matthew identified in the state’s 50 disaster-declared counties.
Gov. Cooper met for a roundtable discussion in Goldsboro with local government and school leaders along with Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks, Director of Hurricane Recovery Dempsey Benton, N.C. Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry and FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Libby Turner. Conversation focused on the progress made so far in Wayne County, including special grants and programs that are bringing additional resources to the hard-hit communities here and elsewhere, as well as remaining needs and creative approaches to long-term recovery.
Wayne County Recovery Underway
Wayne County suffered significant damage from the storm, which brought record-setting rainfall to much of central and eastern North Carolina October 8-9, 2016. More than 6,700 Wayne County residents filed for disaster recovery through FEMA, and more than 1,800 households were eligible for housing assistance. Four homes were destroyed and nine families continue to receive support for temporary housing in local hotels.
Nearly 80 Public Assistance projects to address about $7 million in damaged infrastructure are expected to be filed. This includes nearly $3 million in losses to Walnut Street in Goldsboro when a storm sewer failed, resulting in a significant buildup of debris.
About one in seven of the 2,420 applicants who requested expedited processing through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program are from Wayne County. The program includes the options of elevation, acquisition and demolition (“buyout”) or mitigation reconstruction (demolition and rebuild) for eligible applicants; most requests from Wayne are for buyouts.
Wayne, Cumberland, Edgecombe and Robeson counties will share $159 million of the $198 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to support housing, economic development, infrastructure and efforts to prevent further damage.
While the state Disaster Recovery Act of 2016 requires all affected communities to develop or enhance resiliency planning, Seven Springs is one of six communities participating in a pilot project that provides additional resources. The others are Fair Bluff, Kinston, Lumberton, Princeville and Windsor.
Statewide Recovery Efforts Continue to Show Progress
Housing remains an immediate need across the region for many families, Governor Cooper said. Around 200 families remain in hotels through a temporary sheltering program, down from a total of more than 3,100 households. More participants are expected to move out of hotels in coming days as they return home, relocate to rental housing or find other housing.
Community-based services are available to help survivors move forward in their recovery plans:
Disaster case management, which provides direct, long term support in navigating state and federal recovery programs, may be requested by email via email@example.com or by calling 919-861-2886. This program is supported by a $4.5 million FEMA grant.
Housing counselors are assisting survivors at Transitional Shelter Assistance Centers in Cumberland, Edgecombe and Robeson counties. Requests may be made to the State Helpline at 855-336-2002.
To request crisis counseling support, survivors may call their local Department of Social Services office or the State Helpline.
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, 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 more than $96.7 million in grants to individuals and the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved another $97.4 million in low-interest loans to help people rebuild their homes and businesses, get back to work and move on with their lives. Additionally, the National Flood Insurance Program has paid nearly $110 million in claims filed by home and business owners.
Governor Proclaims Youth Make a Difference Days
While in Goldsboro, Gov. Cooper also proclaimed April 21-23 Youth Make a Difference Days to recognize and encourage young volunteers. Volunteers are a huge part of Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts, including efforts by young people such as Wayne County resident Mackenzie Hinson. Since founding the Make a Difference Food Pantry in 2015, 12-year-old Mackenzie has served almost 40,000 people, many of them impacted by Matthew. Mackenzie and her parents joined Gov. Cooper as he signed the proclamation.
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