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League Bulletin

October 12, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED: Still raw from Hurricane Florence, communities across North Carolina and in neighboring states had to contend with Michael, a major hurricane that leveled parts of Florida upon landfall before breaking to a tropical storm still intense enough to marr the Carolinas on its way northeast.
WHAT IT MEANS: Michael moved over us on Thursday, putting officials' focus on a new round of damage assessments that will include some damaged homes and big cleanup efforts, though the storm didn't have as much concentration on the North Carolina coast as did Florence. Overall, news outlets Friday morning reported​ at least 12 deaths attributable to Michael, including at least one in North Carolina. Half a million people in North Carolina were without power. Several school districts closed for the day.
ON TAP: The General Assembly was already scheduled to return to session Monday for additional disaster relief framing, due to Florence, whose preliminary damage toll nears $13 billion -- about as much as Hurricanes Matthew and Floyd combined -- according to the governor. 
THE SKINNY: As we reported in last week's Bulletin, state and community leaders will be working on this well into the future, not just next week, as some communities are still bandaged from 2016's Hurricane Matthew. We'll keep you posted on opportunities for aid as they come up. Read on in this Bulletin for more.

State Rep. John Faircloth​ was recognized Thursday as the 2018 recipient of the N.C. League of Municipalities’ Community Champion Award. The award was presented to Representative Fairclolth for dedicated support of North Carolina cities and towns during the 2018 legislative session. The presentation took place at the Legislative Building complex. 
Representative Faircloth’s work this past year as bill sponsor and key advocate was crucial in the passage of legislation designed to reduce blight and assist cities and towns in redeveloping abandoned properties. Now serving his fourth term representing portions of High Point and Guilford County, he has also worked extensively on public safety issues critical to municipal efforts to keep crime rates low and residents safe. “Situations involving abandoned, blighted properties can affect entire neighborhoods, surrounding property owners and the economic futures of entire communities,” said Salisbury Council Member Karen Alexander, a member of the League’s Board of Directors. “We are indebted to Representative Faircloth for pursuing a solution to help address this problem.”
Alexander, who represents the NCLM district that includes High Point and Guilford County, presented the award to Representative Faircloth on Thursday. “Having been a lifelong resident of North Carolina municipalities as well as having served for over 30 years in employment and seven years as a city council member with local government entities in North Carolina, I know firsthand that the citizens of our cities and towns are better served when their communities work in concert with the N.C. League of Municipalities,” Representative Faircloth said. “As a member of the N.C. House of Representatives, I have had numerous occasions to work in cooperation with municipalities and the League when situations arise requiring public policy decisions and legislation is necessary to enable new programs or to modify present practices in response to changing realities.”
The Community Champion Award was originally scheduled to be presented to Faircloth at City Vision 2018, NCLM’s annual conference, which was postponed until spring due to Hurricane Florence.

Recovery efforts for Hurricane Florence continued this week, even as Gov. Roy Cooper extended an Executive Order to establish a new state of emergency in counties affected by Hurricane Michael. In response to Hurricane Michael, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was forced to revise its meeting schedule for applicant briefings considered crucial for local governments seeking FEMA Public Assistance reimbursements. The revised schedule of meetings, which will run through Tuesday, can be found here. A final FEMA webinar on procurement requirements will be held Monday at 1 p.m., and you can find the link to participate here

As published previously here, this UNC School of Government temporary website​​ provides a range of recovery-related information, including FEMA rules, and recently posted a FEMA Disaster Cost Documentation Spreadsheet that can be used to help meet requirements so that you can have the best opportunity for having eligible expenses reimbursed.

You can also find helpful information in this recent edition of Coates Canons regarding zoning amendments for temporary housing for disaster victims, an issue crucial to meeting housing demand in places where residents have been displaced.

Meanwhile, the School of Government is recommending that local governments affected by both Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael issue separate states of emergency for Michael. Doing so could be helpful in documenting expenses.  

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 of 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​.

Gov. Roy Cooper has put forth a $1.5 billion plan for North Carolina's recovery from Hurricane Florence. He's also asking the General Assembly to make "an initial down payment" of $750 million from the total when it holds its special storm-related session next week, according to a Wednesday press release from the governor's office. That release itemizes the recovery spending proposal, with the biggest individual pieces going to home rehabs, repairs or buyouts as well as farm aid. It would also give $25 million to water and sewer system restoration and storm drainage system repair. For distribution, those funds would go to Golden LEAF, which would also receive a separate $25 million to help local governments repair or rebuild government facilities. Funds for resiliency planning are another feature of the governor's plan. As written, it's not final, with the legislature scheduled to assemble on Monday to discuss its own ideas for storm recovery and may approve a package that differs in details. Read Associated Press coverage​ of the recovery proposal and what's ahead. 

Want to your League membership to have a direct impact on advocacy and policy efforts at the NC General Assembly? Then be sure to register to attend​ the 2018 Advocacy Goals Conference, Nov. 29, 2018 at the Raleigh Convention Center. By attending the conference, your municipality will have a voice and a vote as League members discuss and decide upon the issues that are prioritized when talking with state legislators and policy makers in 2019-2020. In order to have the most representative set of advocacy goals, we need as many cities and towns represented as possible. Register today to make sure your town is represented! Also available to attendees is the chance to meet with several disaster-focused organizations – meet one-on-one with representatives to address your specific Hurricane Florence questions or gather information about how to make sure your community is ready for the next emergency situation. 

Sometimes, the good work of municipal government goes unseen -- but the Town of Selma is forcing a difference. Mayor Cheryl Oliver calls it ” The Year of the Visual,” referring to several implementations meant to give anyone in the Johnston County municipality — whether living there or simply passing through — something to behold. What that means for growth and business is all explained on Here We Grow, a powerful economic-development storytelling website featuring cities and towns across North Carolina. A project of the League and WRAL TechWire, Here We Grow is a free tool for League members to share, in their own words, all they're doing to improve their local economies and, by extension, the state's. Read Selma's compelling story of improvement and check the directory of other local articles spotlighting municipalities from the mountains to the coast. Haven't joined in yet? It's as easy as it is important. Send an email to​ to request login credentials.