More Hurricane Relief Approved by NC House

Raleigh, N.C. – State lawmakers in the North Carolina House of  Representatives unanimously approved legislation to provide $257 million of  additional disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Dorian and other recent  severe storms this week. 

House Bill 1023 Storm Recovery Act of 2019 is the latest in a series of  disaster relief bills passed by the North Carolina House that have provided  over $1 billion of hurricane recovery funds to victims since 2016.    

North Carolina recently saved a record rainy day reserve that allowed the state to  respond to Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, Dorian, Tropical Storm Michael, and  other major disasters, without raising taxes or diverting revenue from other  sources. 

“This  is a lot money in our sixth disaster relief bill since 2016,” said  state House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne). “Thank  goodness we are a state that is fiscally responsible, that is prepared for  disasters, to provide relief to victims who desperately need our help in  recovery.  Where schools were devastated, where infrastructure was  devastated, we’re helping them rebuild, and we’re doing it in the right way  that is sustainable over the long-term.”

Appropriations  for disaster relief in H.B. 1023 include:

- $36 million for the state Department of Transportation to  increase cash flow, fund debris removal, and provide highway repairs.

- $55 million to match federal grants for Hurricane Matthew,  Tropical Storm Michael, Hurricane Dorian, and other storms and future  emergencies.

- $5 million to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer  Affairs for the buyout of swine farms in flood-prone areas. 

- $42 million to the state Division of Emergency Management  for mitigation studies, monitoring systems, and other resiliency needs.   

- $20 million to Golden LEAF to repair infrastructure and  equipment, fund hazard mitigation.

- $40 million to the North Carolina Office of Recovery and  Resiliency for loans or grants to local governments for resiliency planning.

- $5.2 million to Elizabeth City State University for repairs  to buildings damaged in Hurricane Dorian.

- $1.7 million to repair Okracoke School as necessary after  Hurricane Dorian.

- $1.8 million to the Office of State Budget and Management  for infrastructure at the Lake Mattamuskeet watershed.

The bill directs  the Department of Public Safety to establish mechanisms that solicit input  from agencies receiving federal or state disaster recovery funds regarding  ways to improve the administration of funds and associated program.

The  removal of abandoned vessels is also addressed in the legislation by granting  the state Wildlife Resources Commission additional authority to deal with  derelict boats after severe storms on the coast. 

Recommendations of the state General Assembly’s Program  Evaluation Division regarding disbursement of federal Community Development  Block Grants for storm relief were also included in the legislation.

The bill  further forbids any of its appropriations from being spent on new residential  buildings in the 100-year flood plain and adds a new position at the Division  of Emergency Management to administer federal grants. 

“This  bill is a big step forward for supporting victims and communities still  reeling not only from hurricanes on the coast, but disasters across North  Carolina,” said Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), a  co-chair of the state House Appropriations Committee.  “It  continues our commitment to maximizing federal matching funds through  disaster relief spending, and improving state policy to help every region  prepare for future emergencies.  I appreciate the commitment of my  colleagues to smart financial management so we can deliver recovery funds in  times of desperate need for North Carolinians.”