Where is hurricane relief money going?

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Hurricane recovery from storms that happened in 2016 and 2018 is still underway in North Carolina – which allocated nearly $3.5 billion to the recovery effort.

Although some homes have already been fixed, there are still hundreds waiting to be repaired under a program which is the last resort for funding.

In Oct. 2016, Hurricane Matthew destroyed or damaged an estimated 98,000 homes in eastern North Carolina.

When Hurricane Florence hit in 2018, its devastating flooding did most of the damage—affecting almost 75,000 homes and businesses.

The impact of the double hit has made it difficult for some folks to recover—years after the disasters.

“Recovery is a long process,” said Cornelius J. Jordan of the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

The office runs Rebuild NC, which oversees programs that are the last resort for those who need hurricane relief.

“Before you get to our funds, you have to have gone through other ways to get those funds,” said Jordan.

So, how much money does Rebuild NC have to work with?

  • The state was allocated: $236 million in Block Grants for Hurricane Matthew relief.
  • To date: $175.9 million of those funds have been committed to homeowners, local governments and others.

“Our goal is to assist every single applicant in our program,” said Jordan.

Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia wanted to know how many Matthew victims have been helped by this program of last resort.

Sbraccia learned:

  • 576 homes have been repaired under the program
  • 303 homes still under construction

And those homes that are being fixed are being completed under a variety of programs run by Rebuild NC.

“We have a reimbursement program. We have a reconstruction program. We have a rehab program and we have a buyout program,” said Jordan.

That buyout program purchases properties that are prone to repeated flooding from hurricanes and other rain events.

Those purchased homes will be demolished and the area left as permanently maintained green spaces.

When a disaster hits, people apply for many different programs and have to keep submitting individual applications and documents over and over to each agency.

The state is pushing for the federal government to allow a universal application—fill it out once and it goes to every program or agency involved in disaster relief.

“That’s really to see what North Carolinians want to see what we should do with this money—what programs will impact lives,” said Jordan.

The draft action plan is available for review on the Rebuild NC website.

Printed copies of the draft plan are also available by calling 984-833-4344.

Public comments can be submitted by email to publiccomments@rebuild.nc.gov or by U.S. Postal Service mail to: ReBuild NC, Attn: Florence Action Plan, P.O. Box 110465, Durham, NC, 27709.

Any comments on the draft plan must be submitted by 5 p.m. March 8.

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