The state House Select Committee on Disaster Relief was reauthorized by Speaker Tim Moore on Monday following news the administration missed another deadline to deliver relief to victims of Hurricane Matthew. Representative Bell, who also serves as the House Majority Leader, is a co-chair of the committee.
Committee co-chair Representative Brenden Jones called for renewed hurricane recovery oversight after the administration failed to deliver federal grants meant to rebuild homes in the state’s hardest-hit communities.
Representative Jones said the House Select Committee on Disaster Relief would convene and “do everything we can” to assist victims still waiting for recovery funds.
“It’s been nearly two years since Hurricane Matthew, yet far too many people are still out of their houses and waiting for help,” said Representative Jones.
“The governor’s failure to allocate millions of dollars in federal assistance is absolutely unacceptable and demands action. Our committee must continue to do everything we can to hold this administration accountable and get the victims of Hurricane Matthew the help they deserve.”
Hurricane Matthew dropped more than 12 inches of rain on eastern North Carolina in October 2016, leaving much of the region underwater for several days and causing catastrophic damage to homes and businesses.
Nearly two years later, just one of twenty-two affected counties has received final approval to begin spending $236 million of federal community development block grants for disaster recovery (CDBG-DRs), according to the state’s Emergency Management Division.
Another three counties are expected to complete required paperwork in August, according to the division, and work is ‘just now underway in the remaining 18 counties.’
“As serious questions remain unanswered regarding the slow pace of the Cooper Administration’s recovery effort, it’s critical that we continue our committee’s oversight to ensure folks get the help they need,” said Representative Bell.
“I appreciate the Speaker’s support in this effort and commend Representative Jones for his leadership in making sure the victims of Hurricane Matthew are not forgotten.”
South Carolina received the Hurricane Matthew recovery funds at the same time as North Carolina, but it has placed 145 families into homes and issued 459 award letters, according to WBTV.
In North Carolina, by contrast, “one family has been granted an exception to receive a reimbursement.”
“Major hurricanes like Matthew pose an annual threat to North Carolina’s coast, so the state General Assembly saved a record emergency fund of $2 billion, created a Reserve for Disaster Relief, and appropriated $360 million to aid disaster victims since 2016,” Moore said.
“I share the deep concern expressed by my colleagues for their constituents who have not yet received critical aid in eastern North Carolina despite its ready availability,” Moore continued, “and reauthorize the House Select Committee on Disaster Relief to see that assistance is delivered to families affected by Hurricane Matthew.”
The state General Assembly appropriated $200 million to aid victims in the Disaster Relief Act of 2016, another $100 million in the Disaster Relief Act of 2017, and the 2018 state budget directed $60 million to a new Reserve for Disaster Relief.
The state’s new Reserve for Disaster Relief directs the administration to spend funds on specific needs like enabling low to moderate income homeowners to purchase residences and provide flood insurance subsidies for affected citizens.
Another major storm, Hurricane Chris, formed off the North Carolina coast this month but never made landfall.