Loading...
We'll know when ECU main campus is serious about their no smoking policy when certain grounds and facilities staff...

Matthew recovery is state's problem now

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell is editor of the Insider State Government News Service.

Loading…

Thursday, September 14, 2017

While the nation focuses on Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey, North Carolina still doesn't have the money it needs to rebuild from Hurricane Matthew.

Yes, it's been nearly a year since widespread flooding hit the eastern part of our state. Yes, federal and state politicians have touted multiple rounds of recovery funding. But after 11 months, many homeowners and businesses are still waiting for help to get life back to normal.

Fair Bluff Mayor Billy Hammond, whose small town along the South Carolina line was underwater for days, told me the latest timeline for aid money is "after the first of the year." Residents there, he said, are "getting a little bit upset, but I tried to tell them that's the way the government works and my hands are tied."

But it shouldn't be, and the delays are unacceptable. For the money that's already allocated, government agencies just need to write the checks. Fair Bluff has been promised funding for a new apartment complex to replace storm-damaged housing, and construction should be under way. It's not.

And the storm victims who have been promised help are actually the lucky ones. Thousands of people have been told that even though they meet the qualifications, there's not enough state and federal money to assist them.

Gov. Roy Cooper's point guy on Matthew recovery, Dempsey Benton, says the state still has between $450 million and $500 million in unfunded recovery needs. That includes nearly 2,000 people who want the government to buy out their flood-prone homes and about 10,000 people who need help repairing damaged homes. "We hope that gap will be becoming less as we work to secure other resources," he said.

Businesses also need help to rebuild, and Benton says the federal Small Business Administration has only provided $31 million in loans in North Carolina. In Fair Bluff, only three of about 18 active downtown storefronts have reopened since the storm, Hammond said.

In past storms, North Carolina has leaned heavily on the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to handle the majority of recovery needs. FEMA isn't providing enough support for Matthew, and a few more months of asking likely won't open a magical treasure chest full of money.

State leaders, this is your problem now. Harvey and Irma are going to stretch FEMA's resources thin, even with an infusion of cash from Congress. Already, some federal grants from Matthew are being put on hold. FEMA is delaying a $760,000 grant to help rebuild a pier on Oak Island and it's now unclear when — or if — the money will arrive, The State Port Pilot of Southport reported.

North Carolina will now have to compete with more recent storm victims for limited federal resources. And there's no way that Fair Bluff, Princeville and Kinston have anywhere near the political clout that Houston and Miami have.

That means the legislature will likely need to find the roughly $500 million to help homeowners still struggling from Matthew. So far, the legislature has chipped in $200 million in December and $100 million in the budget it approved in June. To put the need into perspective, $500 million is about 2 percent of the state's $23 billion budget for the current fiscal year.

But the good news is that Republican leaders have amassed a large "rainy day" fund of nearly $2 billion. They've been reluctant to spend much of it, but if Matthew's flooding doesn't qualify as a "rainy day," I'm not sure what does.

And if the GOP is scared to dip too deeply into the piggy bank, spending cuts are also an option — this year's budget included plenty of pork projects that could be put on hold. Regardless of how lawmakers fund it, money for Matthew needs to be on the agenda when they return to Raleigh for yet another extra session in October.

Colin Campbell is editor of the Insider State Government News Service. Follow him at NCInsider.com or @RaleighReporter. Write to him at ccampbell@ncinsider.com.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

June 23, 2018

Call it the "electric fence presidency."

President Donald Trump — always confident, always exuberant, always selling — crashes forward with the policies and people he embraces until he hits a shocking obstacle and falls back, at first stunned and disbelieving, but resolving…

HughHewitt

June 23, 2018

“Whoever thought I was going to live so long,” my 96 year old mother asked? She isn’t alone. About 10,000 of us turn 65 every day. In 1990, North Carolina’s median age – meaning one half are younger and one half older — was 33. By 2016 that number had escalated…

Tom Campbell.jpg

June 22, 2018

The sweeping outrage over President Trump's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents is a welcome sign of our nation's moral and civic health. Ripping apart the family bond was too much even for some of Trump's most fervent apologists to take.

In the end, Trump had to back off, a…

020917Dionne

June 21, 2018

Add one to the growing list of disappointments. The Supreme Court had the opportunity Monday to take a massive step toward more reasonable elections — and punted. The decisions postpone a national reckoning with the escalating pace of partisan warfare.

But just because the court kicked the…

Justin Leavitt

June 21, 2018

"President Trump has diligently and successfully gone about fulfilling his promises to the pro-life voters who worked so hard to elect him, and it has been a privilege to stand with him to defend the innocent unborn," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, at the…

kathrynlopez

June 20, 2018

For several decades, a few black scholars have been suggesting that the vision held by many black Americans is entirely wrong. Shelby Steele, a scholar at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, said: "Instead of admitting that racism has declined, we (blacks) argue all the harder that it is…

walter williams

June 20, 2018

President Donald Trump and his top aides have given America two main stories about the separation of families at our southern border: It's an unfortunate byproduct of laws and court decisions that tie the administration's hand, and it's a necessary deterrent to illegal immigration. These are…

PONNURU

June 19, 2018

On Sunday, a day we as a nation set aside to honor fathers and the bonds of family, I was among the millions of Americans who watched images of children who have been torn from their parents.

In the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000…

Laura Bush

June 19, 2018

Would you rather vote at 7:30 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. on a weekday — or vote on the Saturday morning before the election?

That was the practical impact of the choice facing the legislature last week — but you might not know it from the heated rhetoric on both sides. Democrats and left-…

Colin Campbell

June 18, 2018

The Washington Post

Like all drug scourges, the fentanyl epidemic that claims so many lives on a daily basis is a matter of supply and demand. The demand, alas, is made in America. The supply, by contrast, is overwhelmingly imported, with a key source being China, where a poorly regulated cottage…

287 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 29
        Next Page»   Last Page»