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League Bulletin

October 5, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED: Legislators met in special session to begin​ providing the state's portion of Hurricane Florence recovery assistance, approving $56.5 million.

: The bulk of that money is for state matches of federal aid, with a lot of it going toward response costs already incurred.

: Another special session is planned October 15 to approve more disaster response legislation, but even that session will likely be just additional initial steps, with legislators continuing to address the needs of Florence victims well into next year's regular legislative session.

: Nearly two decades ago, the General Assembly approved $836 million in response to a disaster of similar magnitude, Hurricane Floyd. In today's dollars, that is $1.25 billion. 

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​. ​

As Hurricane Florence recovery efforts continue, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up a series of applicant briefings considered crucial for local governments seeking FEMA Public Assistance reimbursements. Those briefings will begin on Monday and run through Oct. 15. A full explanation of the briefings and a schedule can be found here​.  State and federal officials are also urging local governments to notify special purpose units of local governments, such as water and sewer authorities, and nonprofit partners including volunteer fire departments about the briefings.

As published previously here, 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.

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, Gov. Roy Cooper is urging North Carolinians to participate in volunteer clean-up efforts next week, and his office has compiled a contact list for opportunities​ to volunteer here​. The governor notes that these volunteer efforts can help speed recovery by allowing rebuilding efforts to start sooner.

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 ​