North Carolina awards local governments $47M for hurricane recovery

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The North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) has awarded $47.3 million in grants and loans to local governments for disaster recovery since last year, officials announced Thursday.

NCORR’s program gives up to $1 million grants and $2 million in interest free loans to financially distressed local and tribal governments.

Pollocksville, a small town in Jones County, is using its grant to reduce its debt service, retain full-time employees for disaster mitigation and pay for additional accounting and financial services.

“The grant has been a financial lifesaver for our town,” Pollocksville Mayor James Bender Jr. said.

The state-funded program helps local communities offset the recovery cost from hurricanes Florence and Dorian, which struck the state within the past two years.

Hurricane Florence made landfall in September 2018 and left nearly $17 billion in damages in its wake, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The state reported 42 deaths, and the storm flooded more than 74,500 structures. Nearly 140,000 North Carolinians registered for disaster assistance after the storm, NWS said. A year later, Hurricane Dorian brought severe flooding and damage to the state’s outer banks, estimated by officials to cost $50 million.

“Hurricanes damage not only individual homes, but also buildings and infrastructure that are critical for community stability and welfare,” NCORR COO Laura Hogshead said. “Our office is committed to building local government partnerships that will support long-term disaster recovery throughout the state.”

Local and tribal governments can use the grants for costs associated with disaster recovery, including contracting, payroll, buying a vehicle and adding up to two temporary positions. The grants also can be used for certain nondisaster-related vendor payments and debt service. NCORR offers loans to governments while they await reimbursement from federal disaster programs.

NCORR said 41 local and tribal governments have received a total of 63 grants and loans to help with operating costs and recovery expenses since the program launched last year.

“Our communities are committed to rebuilding smarter and stronger and these funds will help foster new partnerships and make North Carolina more resilient against future storms,” Gov. Roy Cooper said.

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