– From the Office of House Majority Leader John Bell –
On the first day of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the House Environment Committee gave unanimous approval to House Bill 500, “Disaster Relief and Mitigation Act,” which was introduced by House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne). The legislation allocates over $200 million to prevent flooding and plan for future storms.
“North Carolina has now been hit by two 1,000-year floods within the past five years,” said Leader John Bell. “This legislation reflects input from leaders within our local communities who have taken the brunt of these storms. It is the largest and most comprehensive statewide investment that North Carolina has ever made to prepare for future storms. Today’s vote marks an important first step as we work to make North Carolina more resilient.”
To date, over $3.5 billion in disaster recovery aid has been spent in North Carolina to recover from Hurricanes Florence and Matthew. Lawmakers noted that every $1 spent on pre-disaster mitigation today saves $4-7 in disaster recovery on the back end.
“In the past, we have reacted to hurricanes,” added Katherine Skinner, executive director of the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “This bill is proactive – looking to the future and giving North Carolina communities tools they need to be resilient to these storms. It is the kind of forward thinking that will make North Carolina a leader in the southeast.”
Representatives Brenden Jones (R-Columbus), Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) and Charlie Miller (R-Brunswick) are also primary sponsors of the legislation.
“I’m pleased to see this incredibly important piece of legislation move through the House,” said Rep. Brenden Jones. “The region I’m privileged to serve has been among the hardest-hit areas of North Carolina and people are still struggling to rebuild going back to Hurricane Matthew. With another hurricane season staring, it’s important to have the resources to prepare for any future storms.”
Rep. Charlie Miller added, “Coastal communities face a range of unique flooding hazards including storm surge, waves, and erosion—all of which can cause extensive damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. As a Southport native, I’ve seen countless storms decimate the area and can recognize the benefit of having a reserve in place for towns to actively utilize during their preparation and recovery process.”
“The Conservation Fund commends Rep. Bell and his colleagues for taking a comprehensive approach to making North Carolina more resilient to flooding,” said Bill Holman, North Carolina State Director of The Conservation Fund. “His strategy will help sustain economic growth and provide multiple environmental benefits.”
House Bill 500 now goes to the Appropriations Committee for further review.