BEAUFORT — State lawmakers are in the process of considering a bill that, if approved, would earmark more than $200 million for disaster recovery from every major named storm since 2016. These include hurricanes Matthew, Florence, Dorian and Tropical Storm Michael.
Wednesday night, House lawmakers passed an engrossed version of House Bill 1023 to the Senate for consideration. An engrossed bill means a bill that includes various amendments tacked on during the voting process. Thursday, the Senate passed a bill with different language and some provisions added or deleted, and both chambers appointed a committee to work out the differences after an adjournment until Nov. 13.
First filed on Oct. 22, the House bill earmarks $280 million in funding for storm-related recovery of last year’s Hurricane Florence, 2016’s Hurricane Matthew and this year’s Hurricane Dorian.
The bill breaks down the $280 million for a number of projects.
For example, $38,173,258 is earmarked for the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund. Of that $38 million, $11,197,013 will go toward providing the state’s match for federal funds relating to disaster assistance programs that focus on Hurricane Matthew.
The allocation will also provide $17,800,000 to cover the state’s match for federal disaster recovery assistance from Hurricane Dorian, “as well as similar state assistance programs that may supplement federal assistance or cover housing repairs and rehabilitation for those who may not qualify for federal assistance” reads a portion of the bill.
An additional $5 million is earmarked “to ensure that sufficient funds are available to provide relief and assistance for Hurricane Dorian, recent storms, and future emergencies,” reads the bill.
The bill also sets aside $40 million to assist local governments with grants and loans for a number of recovery efforts.
Local government loans will be available from a pool of $20 million. These loans can be for recovery projects stemming from all the major named storms dating back to 2016.
“The (North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency) shall enter into agreements with local governments to ensure the proper use of the funds and the return of the funds to the State once the local governments have received federal reimbursement,” the bill currently reads. “Loans may be used for cash-flow assistance while awaiting federal reimbursement. NCORR shall operate the program on a revolving loan fund basis to assist the maximum number of local governments possible.”
An additional $10 million in grants is specifically earmarked for Dorian recovery.
“Grants may be used for repairs, staff support and technical assistance, cash-flow assistance, and other related activities,” the bill reads.
Lawmakers have also identified preventive measures along coastal counties as a primary concern.
More than $1 million will go toward four full-time positions to help coastal counties with resilience planning. These employees will work with local and federal officials for plan implementation. The Living Shoreline projects are also scheduled to receive $2 million in funding, should the bill pass.
Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email Dean@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.