North Carolina News

Cooper asks for $1.5 billion in Florence recovery funds

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - Gov. Roy Cooper is asking state legislators to approve about $1.5 billion for the recovery from Hurricane Florence, just as Hurricane Michael approached the state Wednesday.

“An unprecedented storm requires an unprecedented response,” he said. “When you’ve had two 500-year floods within two years, like we’ve had in North Carolina, rebuilding smarter and stronger isn’t just an idea. It’s an obligation.”

He said state leaders have estimated the cost of damage from Hurricane Florence at about $13 billion, which is about the same as hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Floyd (1999) combined.

Cooper said he’ll ask lawmakers to approve about $750 million in spending on Monday when they return to Raleigh for a special session.

He called that a “down payment,” and said he will seek the remaining funding in the coming months. He said it will not require a tax increase. Instead, funding would come from the rainy-day fund and a budget surplus.

“Because we budgeted wisely and we saved money, now of course we’ll be working with the governor to put that package together, vote on it next Monday and get that relief out to hard-pressed citizens in the eastern portion of our state,” said state Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake).

Among the items included in the governor’s recovery plan: $533.8 million for housing, $309.5 million for agriculture and $74 million for education. Some of the funding would serve as a match for federal funds.

Cooper also said he wants homeowners in areas damage by Matthew and Florence to consider buyouts or elevation of their properties.

He noted some communities worry about losing population, but he said the state could work with those communities to build affordable housing in areas not prone to flooding.

“One of the best ways to mitigate damage is to avoid rebuilding in flood areas,” Cooper said.

The General Assembly approved about $56 million in recovery funding last week.

Cooper said he’ll establish an Office of Recovery and Resiliency to oversee the response.

To view more details of Gov. Cooper’s proposal, click here.

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