Lack of affordable housing slows recovery from Hurricane Matthew in Robeson County
Last October, Hurricane Matthew brought widespread flash flooding and a trail of devastation to North Carolina. By the time the storm returned to the Atlantic, areas of our state had experienced a 1,000-year flood event, causing more than 800,000 households to lose power, displacing nearly 3,750 residents from their homes, closing 635 roads and 34 school systems, and, tragically, causing the death of 28 of our fellow North Carolinians.
Almost immediately following the storm, we led our congressional delegation in requesting federal supplemental assistance to jump-start the state’s long recovery process. Our offices closely coordinated with then-Gov. Pat McCrory and incoming Gov. Roy Cooper to identity the state’s initial needs. We then worked with congressional appropriators, requesting that they take action in the upcoming funding bill. These bipartisan efforts paid off when Congress approved a funding bill last December that secured more than $334 million for North Carolina’s Hurricane Matthew recovery.
A bulk of this federal assistance came in the form of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief funds that will be used to help North Carolina families who lost their homes and suffered personal and financial hardship. The federal assistance package also provided funds to help small business owners and local communities, to repair schools, roads, bridges and infrastructure, and to reopen highways that were closed due to flooding.
In addition to the $334 million secured by our delegation, North Carolina has also received more than $750 million of assistance from the federal government that did not require a specific congressional appropriation. These funds were used to provide money to families for home repairs that were not covered by their insurance, and were also used by local communities to assist with debris removal and infrastructure repairs.
While this assistance, totaling almost $1.1 billion, was desperately needed by North Carolina, the state continues to have additional long-term unmet needs. This is why we worked closely with Gov. Cooper to outline a plan of action for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 that highlights the resources it will take for North Carolina to make a more complete recovery.
We took advantage of the opportunity afforded last month by the omnibus appropriations bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2017 to press for additional assistance. While we succeeded in getting supplemental appropriations added to the bill, the formula used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to allocate disaster relief funds will provide North Carolina only an additional $6 million.
We are disappointed with this level of additional funding, but we will not stop working together on behalf of the families and businesses that still need help in the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s destruction. We, along with Gov. Cooper and the rest of the state’s congressional delegation, will continue to demonstrate North Carolina’s long-term needs to federal agencies.
The long-term toll Hurricane Matthew has had on victims cannot be overstated, and many of our constituents continue to contact our offices asking for help. North Carolinians who have questions or issues with their FEMA reimbursements, or are experiencing difficulties with any other federal agency, should contact our offices as soon as possible by calling 919-856-4630 (Tillis) or 919-859-5999 (Price).
The Hurricane Matthew recovery has been a long and difficult process. Know that we will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to fight for you in Washington and ensure that local communities have the resources needed to rebuild and that no North Carolinian is left behind.