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League Bulletin

September 21, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED: As the nation watched, Hurricane Florence made landfall over Wilmington and advanced at an agonizing, walking pace into the Carolinas, taking lives and property to an extent we've yet to fully calculate. 
WHAT IT MEANS: Public and private parties from all over the country have converged here to do what they can for our injured communities, which are assessing damages and will in many cases take great lengths of time to recover. A news release from the badly impacted City of New Bern on Thursday said assessors had already tallied more than $63 million in residential and $23 million in commercial losses there alone -- numbers expected to grow, as those assessments are days from complete. 
ON TAP: A lot of pressure for relief funding on the state and federal levels. Gov. Roy Cooper to that end has called for an October special session​ of the General Assembly, whose leaders previously indicated they were standing ready, outlets report. President Trump visited the Carolinas to tour the damage and verbally promised full support in the recovery. Meanwhile, less-affected or unaffected localities are being encouraged to share resources for the sake of quick response. 
THE SKINNY: With the full toll not yet in grasp, it's impossible to wrap this Bulletin around the impact of Hurricane Florence on our communities and the scale of response it's necessitated. It can be broken into thousands of individually amazing stories from the coast and far inland, and we'll continue to hear them for a long time to come.

As the devastating effects of Hurricane Florence continue to be felt across much of southeastern North Carolina, please know that municipalities affected by the storm are in our thoughts. Even as some floodwater have receded, waters in other areas have risen, and we know that this is hampering recovery efforts. 
You can find information road closings and other emergency factors at​. Meanwhile,​ continues to provide the fullest scope of information regarding emergency response, and please remember that your county Emergency Management office is your key point of contact for coordination of emergency response and recovery.​
Now that recovery efforts have begun in many areas, it is important to keep in mind that following Federal Emergency Management Agency rules are crucial in order to receive full reimbursements for eligible services that you are providing. This information sheet provides information on rules related to debris removal in order to receive reimbursement by FEMA. This School of Government temporary website also provides a range of recovery-related information, including FEMA rules. The N.C. Division of Emergency Management is also warning local governments that FEMA rules for so-called Direct Administrative Costs cannot be contracted without public bidding unless the contract is under the $10,000 micro-purchasing threshold.
The N.C. Building Inspectors Association, in collaboration with the Office of State Fire Marshal, has set up a response team to assist communities with abnormal inspection load. To make use of this resource, contact your local Emergency Management representative and request assistance from the Disaster Code Enforcement Response Team (DCERT) or find additional information here.​ It is important to note that state law requires electrical inspections for flooded homes and businesses before electricity can be restored.
If you have been largely unaffected by the storm and wish to provide resources (equipment and personnel) to communities that are dealing with response and recovery efforts, please submit the list of resources to your local County Emergency Management Offices. Doing so, these resources can be uploaded to the N.C. Emergency Management System and then the State Emergency Management staff can direct resources where they are needed in an orderly manner.
Do not hesitate to contact League staff if we can help during this difficult time. Please be safe as you continue doing the important work of response and recovery.

Natural disasters like Florence will disrupt the employment of many individuals, while creating more work for both public and private-sector workers responding to the disaster. Here is some employment-related information that we hope you and your residents will find useful. Regarding how to address compensation for employees who cannot report to work because of the storm’s effects, refer to this site. Regarding those employees responding to and on-call for disasters, find information here. For residents who become unemployed due to the storm’s effects, some may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Click here for frequently asked questions​, and click here​ for documentation that can assist you with filing your claim. The current counties where the assistance is available are Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender. Additional counties may be added to the DUA availability designation at a later date. More information is available at Meanwhile, the NC Department of Health and Human Services has announced more food-purchasing flexibility for those in the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) program to help those affected by Hurricane Florence. All those enrolled in all 100 counties will enjoy the ability to purchase hot food, including food prepared for immediate consumption, from authorized Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) retailers using an EBT card. All authorized EBT vendors in the state have been notified about this change, which is effective until Oct. 31. Click here for more information.

Days after the storm clouds disappeared, several transportation routes remain unusable, or dangerous at best, as the N.C. Department of Transportation inspects roads and bridges to determine the extent of the damage. "NCDOT has deployed more than 100 of its employees from areas of North Carolina where the damage from Hurricane Florence was not as severe into the state’s hardest hit communities," a press release said, adding that additional personnel and equipment would be assigned if needed. The press release includes detailed information on all transportation modes and how the storm has impacted them. The information is current as of Wednesday and conditions continue to change, but Gov. Roy Cooper and other state officials remind residents that hazards remain, and concern​ over the integrity of roadways and other infrastructure will remain for some time. Current information on travel in North Carolina is available at Related press release: Help on the Way from the West​

Today, the League released its most recent Revenue Report examining state-collected local revenues received by local governments for the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, and the entire 2017-2018 fiscal year. These reports provide a snapshot of quarterly trends in state-collected local revenues and supplement the League’s annual Revenue Projections memo, released in March. If you have any questions regarding the Revenue Reports or revenue projections, please contact League Research Strategist Caitlin Saunders​.

The state has set up an online form through which local governments can report Florence-related damage of historic properties. The North Carolina Historic Preservation Office, which set up the form, is also looking for information on damaged cemeteries and state highway historical markers. "This information will help the office to efficiently offer aid, technical expertise, and consultation with federal and state entities for response and recovery efforts," a detailed press release​ explained. It clarified that properties of interest are more than 45 years old. The office's website also offers tips for drying out soaked buildings and for insurance documentation.

The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement said early this week that it was in touch with local elections officials and political party leaders in North Carolina to determine what impact Hurricane Florence and its aftermath might have on the 2018 elections, according to a news release from the agency. It noted that it is helping with the sending of military and overseas absentee ballots for counties whose systems the storm took offline. “We are assessing emergency options, and our team is committed to assisting county boards and voters in the affected areas,” said State Board Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach. The full news release has a roundup of options for registered voters in North Carolina.

State health officials are urging caution as many storm-impacted North Carolinians settle back into their homes. "It is important to stay vigilant against all the hazards that we’ll be facing that are associated with flooding, wind damage and mosquitoes," State Health Director Elizabeth Tilson said in a news release​ that offers bullet points and resources regarding individual hazards that communites or individuals can take steps to avoid.