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Cooper visits Columbus home to check on hurricane recovery

Governor Roy Cooper visited Sandra and Ronald Settle’s home off Whitehall Road north of Hallsboro Thursday. The home was damaged by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. The home is being repaired using Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. The Settles have been living in a local motel since construction began about two months ago.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, Cooper established the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) to streamline recovery programming and assistance. NCORR has hired staff experts with prior CDBG-DR experience and expanding capacity to move disaster funding more quickly to people who need it.

Jeff Enterline of Persons Services, left, talks about progress on Sandra and Ronald Settle’s home north of Hallsboro. At center are Gabriella Bonner, Settle’s daughter, Settle and Gov. Roy Cooper. Contractors say the project will be completed on Dec. 23, in time for Christmas. The governor was in Columbus County to inspect Settle’s renovated home as part of the state’s efforts to repair homes that were damaged in Hurricane Florence. The state has streamlined efforts to allocate federal funds for hurricane relief by moving primary responsibility from N.C. Emergency Management to a new agency, the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resistance. Cooper expects as much as $700 million to come from the federal government soon for Hurricane Florence long-term recovery. Approximately $74 million has been distributed in Columbus County for hurricane assistance.

“The Office of Recovery and Resiliency has made tremendous progress in getting disaster money out to the people who need it, but recovery is always a long-term process for storm survivors,” said Cooper. “We know that a changing climate means we have to rebuild not just stronger but also smarter, and our state is focused on innovative ways to better withstand future storms.”

The state has put more than $3.2 billion on the ground to help North Carolinians recover from Hurricanes Matthew, Florence and Dorian.

The Year in Numbers

  • NCORR has committed more than $156.9 million in CDBG-DR funds to help rebuild impacted communities, an increase of 972 percent from this time last year.

  • To date, NCORR has issued 1,261 homeowner award letters to storm survivors. This equates to a 719 percent increase in awards since December of 2018.

  • One year ago, 19 storm survivors’ homes were under construction. Today, the number of storm survivors’ homes with construction initiated or construction completed has increased to 541.

  • NCORR stood up a state-funded Grant and Loan Program with the goal of providing financial assistance to communities needing cash flow to start federally reimbursable programs or address local capacity needs. In 2019, the program has disbursed over $7.9 million in grants and over $22.2 million in loans to 21 communities.

Governor Roy Cooper visited Sandra and Ronald Settle’s home off Whitehall Road north of Hallsboro.

NCORR is preparing to launch new Hurricane Matthew programs. These will include a homeowner buyout program to relocate individuals out of harm’s way and a small rental program to tackle the lack of affordable housing in impacted communities.

Governor Roy Cooper visited Sandra and Ronald Settle’s home off Whitehall Road north of Hallsboro.

All of this work and effort has positioned NCORR to quickly pivot to Hurricane Florence CDBG-DR recovery when the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) publishes the Hurricane Florence Federal Register notice giving North Carolina access to those additional funds. As of today, the state does not have access to the $542 million it will receive for Hurricane Florence recovery, despite the fact that the storm was 15 months ago.

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