General Assembly looks at bill offering funding, state support for resiliency efforts

N.C. Coastal Federation staff and volunteers plant marsh grasses in Pine Knoll Shores during a recent resiliency project. The General Assembly is considering an appropriations bill to fund recovery and mitigation efforts along the coast, including in Carteret County. (Mike Shutak photo)

RALEIGH — A bill is making its way through the General Assembly that offers support and funding for disaster resiliency along the North Carolina coast and elsewhere.

Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, Rep. John Bell, R-Greene, Rep. Brenden Jones, R-Robesonm and Rep. Charles Miller, R-Brunswick, filed House Bill 500 April 8. Also known as the Disaster Relief and Mitigation Act, the legislation is before the House Appropriations Committee and is in its second edition as of June 1.

Carteret County officials, looking for ways to address resiliency in the wake of several powerful storms in recent years, shave expressed support for the bill. County human resources director Jamie Long said Monday the legislation is “very proactive.”

“Any support and state funding received for disaster relief, flood resilience and mitigation legislation are welcome,” she told the News-Times.

Rep. McElraft, who lives in Emerald Isle, said the bill establishes and funds planning and resiliency implementation for flood-prone areas.

“We were able to get $2 million for living shoreline grants to be managed by the (N.C.) Coastal Federation,” she said, referring to a nonprofit based in Carteret County and dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the environment. ‘The Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund is appropriated $28 million as grants to be available to all North Carolina beaches. It’s a way to make our coasts and river areas more resilient to floods and storms for damage prevention.”  

NCCF Executive Director Todd Miller said the bill “would represent a major leap forwards in helping North Carolina communities reduce future flooding and do a better job of protecting our environment at the same time.”

“Developing watershed strategies to help identify, prioritize and implement flood reduction projects is very strategic,” Mr. Miller said, “and will help ensure the cost-effective use of funds spent to make our state more resilient to climate extremes. With this type of analysis, it will be possible to find nature-based stormwater management projects that will both reduce flooding and improve water quality.”

Stormwater runoff is the No. 1 non-point source of water pollution along the coast. Several municipalities in the county have been working in recent years to improve drainage, prevent flooding and reduce pollution being washed off of impervious surfaces and into local water bodies.

In addition to stormwater, coastline erosion is another issue residents and officials face. While bulkheads are a traditional method of preventing shorelines from being washed away by wave action, the NCCF encourages living shorelines to prevent erosion and the loss of wetlands that bulkheads may cause.

“This funding (in H.B. 500) will help provide cost-share for property owners to build nature-based practices that reduce shoreline erosion,” Mr. Miller said, “as well as enhance coastal water quality.

“It will be leverage with federal and private dollars to help magnify the impact of the state’s investment. We anticipate this funding could support many miles of new living shoreline projects, which will make properties less vulnerable to flooding, while providing productive fish habitats and improved water quality,” he continued.

County officials have also been pursuing similar projects. Ms. Long said the county has received Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to fund mitigation measures, reduce community vulnerability to disasters and promote vitality after a disaster.

“Additional grants that have started or are in the final stages of approval are (a) Community Development Block Grant Program and the Elevation Project Grant,” she said. “The project involves the furnishing of all materials, labor, equipment and tools for the complete elevation and retrofitting of existing structures. Approximately 11 structures in Carteret County could benefit from these programs.”

The latest edition of the bill allocates funding for disaster recovery and resiliency and establishes state systems to provide assistance to municipalities, nonprofits and others. Under the bill’s current language, the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency would be reorganized to support resilience through various efforts:

  • Hiring subject experts.
  • Providing support and technical assistance to local governments, nonprofits and businesses.
  • Executing multi-year recovery and resiliency projects.
  • Administering funds.
  • Providing disaster a recovery coordinator and public information.
  • Service contracting.
  • Developing and administering a grant program for local governments.
  • Assembling a work group to create recommendations for the legislature on stream management and flood reduction.

The bill also calls for the appropriation of millions of dollars from the state’s general fund for various programs and projects. The proposed appropriations include the following:

  • $30 million to the state Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund, of which up to $2 million may be allocated to the NCCF for living shorelines, oyster reefs and marsh restoration.
  • $25 million to the Natural Infrastructure Flood Mitigation Program for flood reduction projects in three to six priority watersheds.
  • $20 million to create a statewide Flood Resilience Blueprint for major watersheds impacted by flooding.
  • $20 million to establish a disaster relief and mitigation fund to provide grants to local governments, nonprofits and state agencies for disaster relief and mitigation projects.
  • $20 million for a transportation infrastructure resiliency fund to provide grants to local governments, nonprofits and state agencies for projects ensuring transportation resilience against natural disasters.
  • $20 million for N.C. Land and Water Fund grants to counties, municipalities, nonprofits and state agencies for flood mitigation and reporting.
  • $10.1 million for the N.C. Resilient Communities program, along with an additional $380,763 each year from 2021-23.

 

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

(10) comments

David Collins

Sounds like a bunch of gobblygook politician speak . Especially when you involve the Coastal Federation . Other than plant some sea grass and dump some rocks , what have they really done that has actually been effective at all . Case in point is that disaster in Cape Carteret and what is currently unfolding at Wards Shore .

When the waters rise the lowlands flood . How ya gonna change that ? You are not ever going to change that , NEVER . What you can do is remove people and misguided structures from harms way . The folks that constructed these structures should not be given yet one more free ride by the taxpayers . If they could afford to construct they can afford to destruct , period . Move them out !

Realize that election season is rapidly approaching and this is part of the build up to it . Let them eat cake .

noitall

Rep. McElraft, who lives in Emerald Isle, said the bill establishes and funds planning and resiliency implementation for flood-prone areas.

Ms McElraft, “We were able to get $2 million for living shoreline grants to be managed by the (N.C.) Coastal Federation,” she said This is idiot to grant this much money for What???? FOR WHAT????? NC Coastal Federation has a success rate of zero. and not resposible to the people. Two more million down the drain that someone will have to pay and enjoy NOTHING. IT IS PAST TIME FOR PAT'S RETIREMENT.

drewski

Both a portion of new orleans and a large portion of holland are below sea level, holland has been using wind power pumps and dykes for a cpl hundred years, to live and farm on land that would otherwise be under water.

the ability to recover quickly from floods and other natural issues is what this is all about. If the local govts and groups dont get this grant money some other group will. Before anyone says it is a waste and should be spent on other issues, thats not how it works. its earmarked for a specific purpose, if not used for that here it most certainly will be used elsewhere. logic suggests let the grant flow out and the grant money flow in.

DeadBolt

Ok, so are you saying that New Orleans would be under water, and Holland would not be what you think for any other reason then the Government using TAXPAYER FUNDS for the projects you , or rather THEY deem a virtue? And, to counter a point you capped with, no, um when a regular business sends funds, and they are not accepted by the the benefactor, the business DOES NOT GO LOOSEY GOOSEY WITH THE MONEY AND HAVE A LOTTERY TO THE WORLD . Which is what this government has been doing for about 3-4 decades now. WE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO TUNED THE SYSTEM, WELL, NOW, ITS TIME FOR A COMPLETE OVERHAUL, IMO. Their not behaving in OUR HIGHEST AND BEST INTEREST, SOCIALLY OF FINANCIALLY. ie: our business , America , has apparently been cutting too many checks to entities who are simply malevolent, and EVERYONE KNOWS IT NOW. [whistling]

David Collins

Holland is experiencing catastrophic failures in it’s canal system and the adjoining reclaimed land . New Orleans , well that exercise in futility speaks for itself . To just get money to waste it knowingly is more Biden craziness but that is the world we voted to live in . Sorry , I don’t chose to roll that way .

With that said , if the money would be used to clear out the clogged rivers and streams and hasten the storm waters exit , that would sit better . Let’s leave the idealistic flim-flammers of the Coastal Scammers out of the picture , thank you very much . They have a absolute ton of rework to do as it is .

drewski

Ahh yes all comments on all topics lead to a biden failure ( no agenda there), holland is experiencing infrastructure issues partly related to sinkholes but mostly related to failure to maintain their infastructure. a little research shows bridges over canals and canal bulkhead walls are the major issue, .

(Edited by staff.)

DeadBolt

I did not mention 1 political thing about anyone in my comment. At this point its obvious that no matter 'who' simply wants an opinion, to actually see which is more feasible and the likes, your going down a road that is not even in the ballpark. Issues have outcomes, short, and long term, if your brand of politics are hurt by the issue, your immediate response is to point a finger at the only option available to you, certainly not to actually look at the problem regardless and see why there is a right, wrong, a maybe, etc. IMO, this is the bigest political scandal from a psyc standpoint, because, now as things stand, there is always an enemy, regardless their position. (when the truth is the whole government is working in a crappy concert, and we all owe for a ticket, even though we did not sign up for it).

David Collins

Bottom line , Holland is engaged in something that is futile even though much time and treasure is thrown at it . With the coming sea level rise , this will only get worse . That is unless sea level rise only affects the US . Seeing how we are the ones with the cash and an abundance of nervous nellies , I can not help but wonder .

drewski

In Holland The first river dikes appeared near the river mouths in the 11th century,

So its been futile for quite a few centuries? Like the tide gates on the Thames in london ,was that futile as well? The topic is spending money on resiliency efforts and my point was if we dont apply for and get that money locally somone else will. therefore its logical to me that that money be applied for and spent here rather then say pender or dare county...

(Edited by staff.)

noitall

The geologic elevation of Emerald Isle is rising at a rate that is faster than any fantasized projected sea level rise. This is due to creation of top soil caused by decayed plant vegetation. Easy enough to prove. Simply dig a hole in the ground and eyeball the strata at randomly selected points and see what this tells us. I will do this for a fraction of what NCCF charge. Wind blown sand is also part of the sea level crowds crazy estimates. Much of the sand pumped onto the beach is blown by the prevailing W S E wind over the island into the sound and eventually moved by the tides and prevailing NE to NW winds to nourish the sound side beaches. The obscene amounts of money to be thrown at this will do nothing. Or could we at least expect some accounting and result. Years ago the ferry systems were collecting water samples on every run and this was used to analyze the health of our sounds. This was cancelled. Why not take a small sliver of this colossal bank roll and restart that program and collect some real data. and at least establish a base line to measure all this. My theory is that the sounds improved to the point that the water was no longer a problem. These data would damage the cash pipeline and that would reduce power at many levels. Anyone care to challenge my theory???

Welcome to the discussion.

As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal/abusive/condescending attacks on other users or goading them. The same applies to trolling, the use of multiple aliases, or just generally being a jerk. Enforcement of this policy is at the sole discretion of the site administrators and repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without warning.