The General Assembly passed and Gov. Roy Cooper signed legislation this week providing $56.5 million in initial state assistance for Hurricane Florence victims. The legislation was approved during a special legislative session that convened on Tuesday, and legislative leaders said that they would return on Oct. 15 for yet another round of legislation in response to the storm. Several legislators indicated that the $56.5 million was just the beginning of the state's assistance effort. Of that sum, $50 million will go toward matching funds for federal disaster assistance programs and to pay for relief efforts under the state Emergency Management Act. The remainder has been earmarked to help schools which lost federal dollars that would have flowed to them under various programs but will not because of their closure. The General Assembly's actions this week also give local boards of election more flexibility to try to ensure voter access is not affected by storm damage ahead of the Nov. 6 election, including extending the voter registration deadline by three days in counties under the federal disaster declaration. Legislation also provided school systems affected by the storm more flexibility in adjusting their instructional calendars. You can read media coverage of the special session here and here.
While the number of road closures due to Hurricane Florence was down to 126 as of Wednesday morning, a number of them will require substantial repairs in the days ahead, state transportation officials say. N.C. Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon told state legislators this week that the state should receive about $266 million in federal funding, which will require a $66.8 million match. He said he expected that figure to grow. One of the worst damaged roads is U.S. 421 north of Wilmington, where a temporary bridge is expected to be constructed while a permanent bridge is built. Even the temporary bridge will take about a month to construct. Meanwhile, municipal officials who have questions about damage to state and municipal-maintained roads within their jurisdictions should contact the DOT's Emily McGraw at 919-835-8445.
Congress has now approved $1.7 billion in federal aid to help assist North Carolina and South Carolina with disaster recovery with the approval this week by the U.S. Senate of provisions included in an agency reauthorization bill. North Carolina's portion of the aid is expected to be $1.14 billion, and North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr has indicated that he expects more federal assistance to be approved in the future. The money is targeted at infrastructure repair, housing redevelopment and rebuilding, and business assistance. It will be administered through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program.
Franklin Mayor Bob Scott was chosen this week as chair of the North Carolina Mayors Association Board of Directors, and will serve a one-year term in the role. Scott replaces Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones in the position. Other changes in the association's leadership included Bethel Mayor Gloristine Brown being selected as the board's vice chair, and Kinston Mayor Don Hardy and Angier Mayor Lew Weatherspoon being named to the 11-member Board of Directors. “We have an outstanding group of mayors and the association gives us an
opportunity to talk over common goals and problems we encounter in leading our
towns and cities across North Carolina,” Scott said of the selections. The association is an affiliate group of the League. If you are an elected mayor of a League member city or town and are not participating in the association and would like to, please contact Will Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.