North Carolina Approves $400M in Florence Recovery Funds

November 5, 2018

North Carolina legislators approved spending $400 million to quickly help people and communities reeling from flooding left by Hurricane Florence and setting aside another $450 million for upcoming needs.

The emergency spending, approved by lawmakers on Oct. 15 and signed by Governor Roy Cooper just days, later came nearly a month after Florence slammed into the state and will help farmers and fishermen who suffered economic losses, keep college students in school despite storm-related setbacks, and repair damaged school buildings.

Most of the money will come from the state’s emergency reserves. The state has about $2 billion in rainy-day funds, and this year’s state budget left $560 million unspent.

“There’ll be no tax increases and no interruptions or disruptions from a budgetary perspective of any of our existing important programs,” said Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Raleigh-area Republican who heads the House budget-writing committee.

The Florence relief spending legislators have promised so far represents about a half of the $1.5 billion Gov. Roy Cooper’s office estimated will be needed over a five-year recovery.

More than 30 inches (76 centimeters) of rain from Florence fell in some parts of the state, and along with the storm surge, caused widespread flooding that damaged tens of thousands of homes and other buildings. Authorities have confirmed 40 storm-related deaths. The damage is estimated to reach billions of dollars, including at least $1.1 billion in crop and livestock losses.

The package includes $95 million for repairing and upgrading public school, university and community college property damaged during Florence. About $7 million will help college and university students remain enrolled despite sudden, storm-related expenses.

Farmers needing to buy hay, repair roads and otherwise rebuild agricultural operations will be in line to share $50 million. Homeowners making repairs, needing mortgage help or accepting buyouts to move out of flood plains can split $23 million. Another $3.5 million goes to a program that helps low-income households that lost food because of flooding or electricity outages.