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League Bulletin

September 28, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED: The waters went down and the recovery kicked in as North Carolinians began to get a true assessment of what is likely to be the most damaging hurricane to hit the state since at least Hurricane Floyd in 1999. 

WHAT IT MEANS: One estimate put the number of damaged residential and commercial properties in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia at 700,000, with the bulk of them in this state. 

ON TAP: A special legislative session will be held Oct. 2 to begin providing some state aid to address the disaster, with the expection of meeting a week later to do more. 

THE SKINNY: There is a long road ahead for recovery in southeastern North Carolina, and unfortunately, with a contentious election season also in full bloom, political wrangling around the recovery effort has already begun.


The hard work of hurricane re​covery has begun in towns and cities across southeastern North Carolina, and we hope the information that follows is helpful in that task. It remains crucial to work through county Emergency Management Offices as they coordinate local, state and federal efforts.

This School of Government temporary website provides a range of recovery-related information, including FEMA rules, and a recently posted a FEMA Disaster Cost Documentation Spreadsheet can be used to help meet requirements so that you can have the best opportunity for having eligible expenses reimbursed. This information sheet provides information on rules related to debris removal in order to receive reimbursement by FEMA. 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.

The Golden Leaf Foundation is managing distribution of funds through the N.C. Hurricane Florence Relief Fund, a charitable disaster assistance fund set up by the state. Grant funds may be awarded to units of local government and 501(c)3 nonprofit tax-exempt organizations, and eligible projects include provision off temporary housing and rental assistance and provision of emergency supplies. Projects must be located in a county under the federal disaster declaration. Find more about the relief fund here​.

Meanwhile, in response to storm, the Division of Water Infrastructure has extended its deadline to complete the fall round of applications for water infrastructure. The deadline has been extended more than a month, to Oct. 31. Find more information here​.​​​​

In response to the damage caused by Hurricane Florence, legislators will return to Raleigh on Oct. 2 for a special session to consider a disaster relief package. The session will focus on immediate concerns including compensation for education personnel for days schools were closed during the storm, school calendar flexibility, addressing any hurdles affecting federal aide, delaying some small business tax deadlines, funding disaster-related accounts and adjusting vehicle title replacement policies. Legislators are expected to return again on ​Oct. 9 to address other needs identified by state agencies. Read and hear ​more about the special session here​
In Washington, the U.S. House passed legislation this week that would provide $1.7 billion for disaster assistance largely aimed at victims of Florence, with the expectation of passing more assistance later. North Carolina farmers and livestock growers are believed to have suffered more than $1.1 billion in losses as a result of the storm, according to the state Department of Agriculture. And the damage was so extensive at UNC-Wilmington that classes will not restart until Oct. 8. Florence has also disrupted operations at local elections offices, but the State Board of Elections and local boards say that they are still meeting deadlines ahead of the November elections. This week also marked the first time since the storm that all portions of I-95 and I-40 had been reopened, improving access to a number of storm-ravaged communities including Wilmington. Nonetheless, roughly 270 sections of roads remained closed on Thursday, many of them suffering significant damage. Read more about the state of the Florence response here​ and here​.

The North Carolina League of Municipalities has unveiled an Opioid Solutions Toolbox designed to better help member cities and towns address the epidemic of opioid abuse across the state. The toolbox, which can be found on the NCLM website here​, includes real-world advice from police chiefs who are on the ground fighting the opioid epidemic and have implemented programs that are making a difference. NLCM President and Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara, who led the effort to create this resource, said he hopes highlighting best practices will encourage more communities to adopt effective programs, while recognizing that no single idea will work in all communities.“Our law enforcement leaders tell us we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. We can, though, find better ways to promote prevention, enhance enforcement and improve treatment,” Lazzara said. You can also learn more about the local efforts making a difference in the latest episode of Municipal Equation, the League’s acclaimed podcast, found here.​​

State agency staff offered several suggestions Wednesday to assist local governments that face challenges in operating their water systems. The suggestions were made in response to an examination​ of water systems’ fiscal health and operations by an interim legislative committee​. At the outset, the presenters acknowledged that in most cases, circumstances such as population and business loss or natural disasters have led to the water systems’ distress. In response, the presenters—experts overseeing the state’s water infrastructure funds and local governments’ finances—suggested that the legislature appropriate millions annually to fund solutions. They said those solutions could include regionalization and other arrangements designed to set these water systems on a path toward long-term viability. A representative from the Office of State Treasurer Dale Folwell also prompted committee members to look at creating a class of municipalities called “historic charters,” which would relinquish some taxing authority to county governments, but would keep in place an elected municipal board and limited municipal services. Legislators indicated an interest in all ideas proposed, and agreed to consider them further once they received formal endorsement from agency heads later this fall. Ultimately, the committee will propose legislation for introduction in the 2019 legislative session. Contact: Erin Wynia​

A new report​ from the National League of Cities recommends ways that municipalities can adapt their recycling programs in response to Chinese policies that eventually will mean a complete ban on solid waste imports. NLC ​CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony ​said cities ​​need to think more critically about waste management​, recycling, and domestic market opportunties and development ahead of the ban. China has historically been a huge importer of ​​recyclables to feed its manufacturing in​dustries, and as such has been a ​key driver of demand for many of the recyclables collected by cities and towns, including paper ​​and plastics. China's new policies established a ban on ​mixed paper and plastics earlier this year, and is set to ban all solid waste imports beginning in 2020. ​ ​