Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday that he will call the General Assembly into special session in early December to approve the state’s share of funding for Hurricane Matthew recovery, supplemented by federal funds and a campaign to find private contributions.
McCrory’s budget director, Andrew Heath, said about $61 million in aid has been approved so far, and the state’s share of that amounts to $11.3 million. The final total could be far higher.
At the first meeting of the governor’s recovery committee, McCrory outlined the task ahead: getting displaced people back into permanent homes, helping small businesses restart and figuring out how to rebuild communities in a way that doesn’t leave them exposed to repeated flooding.
Much of the recovery will take years to complete, he said.
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“It’s the most prolonged disaster we’ve ever seen in our state,” McCrory said.
The governor presented a timeline leading up to the special session, charging the committee with raising money, visiting communities and coming up with a plan for sustainable rebuilding.
3,744 Occupants in 109 shelters at peak of storm
248 In four shelters today
635 Roads closed at peak
300 Roads closed today
The administration doesn’t yet know how much state money will have to be allocated. In large part, that depends on how much federal aid comes through. McCrory said he would submit a request for supplemental federal aid to the state’s congressional delegation on Nov. 14, the day that Congress convenes.
If Congress acts, then North Carolina will know how much money it needs to meet its share of disaster relief and pay for whatever disaster recovery remains to be done. McCrory said he hopes to present a state funding recommendation to the legislature in late November or early December.
The legislature would consider the spending as well as modifications to school calendar requirements for students in schools that have been closed due to flooding. He said the legislature could take additional measures related to the recovery if it sees fit to include them in an omnibus bill.
Legislative leaders have said they are amenable to having a special session.
Heath said the state’s reserves are in good shape. The state’s rainy day fund has $1.6 billion, and two other reserve funds total $22.1 million. The administration also wants to be able to rebuild those savings funds in next year’s budget.
It’s not just joining a committee, it’s joining a commitment to move this state forward
Gov. Pat McCrory
The storm struck North Carolina in October and quickly became a flooding disaster; 28 people died.
Many towns are dealing with extensive overtime costs for public safety personnel. Floodwaters did not entirely recede until Oct. 24, Heath said.
Heath said Hurricane Floyd in 1999 cost nearly $1 billion in agricultural losses, and similar losses are expected from Hurricane Matthew.
McCrory put together a large committee of people who are prominent in their communities or statewide, including former budget director and conservative financier Art Pope, UNC President Margaret Spellings and former Gov. Bev Perdue. McCrory exhorted committee members on Tuesday to start raising private money from large corporations, nonprofit organizations and philanthropists.
The private money will be used for housing and small businesses, McCrory told them.
“This is a commitment right now because we’re talking about human life,” he said. “We’re talking about businesses that have literally been destroyed. We’re talking about people who have lost everything they had. It’s not just joining a committee, it’s joining a commitment to move this state forward.”
Recovery so far
▪ 800,000 power outages at the peak of the storm; 1,000 today
▪ 3,744 occupants in 109 shelters at peak; 248 in four shelters today
▪ 34 school systems closed at peak; none closed now
▪ 635 roads closed at peak; 300 roads still closed
▪ 37 counties approved for individual and public assistance; five counties for public assistance only