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Cooper gauges storm recovery efforts


David Pippen, left, and Gov. Cooper look at a passage from the Bible Thursday during Princeville Senior Center's Bible study at the Hurricane Matthew Housing Recovery Application Center in Tarboro.


Rocky Mount Telegram

Saturday, January 13, 2018

TARBORO — Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday toured the Hurricane Matthew Housing Recovery Application Center in Tarboro to see the progress of the ReBuild NC Housing Recovery program.

The center is located at 3003 N. Main St. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, but will be closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We have launched our Rebuild NC project and we have put application centers for people in the four hardest-hit counties,” Cooper said in a news conference after he toured the facility. “We are here in Edgecombe today because it is one of those hard-hit counties. They have already dealt with about 300 applications from people who want help with their homes. Many of them are still living in some kind of temporary shelter.”

Cooper said he wants to remind people that the need is still great.

“With Hurricane Matthew, we had so many people displaced and had about $4.8 billion in damages. When you have major disasters like that, the cameras are there and the attention is paid for a few weeks and then the attention stops, but the hard work is really beginning. And we know that recovery can take months and even years. I want people of North Carolina to know that we are going to work every single day for recovery from Hurricane Matthew,” Cooper said. “We also have a study going on here right now outside of Princeville to see what kind of things we can do to prevent or mitigate problems in the future.”

Cooper also said he is trying to get more funding for hurricane recovery efforts.

“We know that there will be additional funds needed. We will be talking to the North Carolina state legislature when I present my budget to the General Assembly,” Cooper said. “We will have a figure as soon as we see how many people are going through this process and how many people still need help. We will also be going back to Congress to see if we can get additional funding there.”

However, Cooper said that with all the disasters that had occurred last year in the United States, disaster funds from the federal government are slow in coming.

“We are working closely with a bipartisan delegation in Washington. Right now, all the states are struggling to get funding from Washington — Florida, Texas — everyone who has been dealing with this. We are working to push them as hard as we can. ... Both the federal and the state governments need to step up with additional hurricane relief. We owe this to the families here to help them. It is critical to our economy. And it is the kind of thing we want to do for our neighbors.”

Cooper said he appreciates the efforts of town and county officials who have worked hard on recovery efforts. He also said he is grateful for the actions of volunteers.

“I give a round of applause and deep gratitude to all those volunteer organizations and churches and others who stepped in to help people rebuild their homes. All of us together, we are going to step up and do what’s right for the people of North Carolina,” Cooper said. “I am excited about the fact that the people here in Edgecombe County and across North Carolina are so resilient and so strong. We need to get them as much help as we possibly can.”

For more information about the ReBuild NC Housing Recovery program, go to https://rebuild.nc.gov/apply-today-rebuild-nc-recovery. To schedule an appointment at the center, call 2-1-1.