– From the Office of Rep. John Bell –
The final state budget includes a nearly $1 billion investment in disaster relief and flood mitigation for hard-hit areas of hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Specifically, the package creates a reserve of $800 million for disaster-related programs and projects. It appropriates $412 million of this amount for immediate use, including $124 million for Tropical Storm Fred relief. The remaining $380 million will be put in reserves to ensure the state can respond quickly to future natural disasters.
The funding mirrors House Bill 500, “Disaster Relief and Mitigation Act,” which was introduced by House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) earlier this year.
“North Carolina has now been hit by two 1,000-year floods within the past five years,” said Leader Bell. “This budget provides an historic and unprecedented investment to help these local communities recover and prepare for future disasters. This is the largest proactive, statewide package that North Carolina has ever made to address flooding. It will help put an end to the costly cycle of spending after disasters.”
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.
Senator Jim Perry (R-Lenoir), who was a lead sponsor of the effort in the Senate, added, “We can’t stop flooding, but we should work to reduce its severity. This is an issue that impacts the lives and livelihoods of countless citizens across the state, especially in eastern North Carolina. This budget takes a huge step forward to reduce flooding and prepare us for the next big storm.”
“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,” Rep. Charlie Miller (R-Brunswick) who is a primary sponsor of House Bill 500. “As a Southport native, I’ve seen countless storms decimate the area and can recognize the importance of having a proactive plan in place, not waiting until we’re faced with the recovery process to identify that we needed to be more prepared.”
This package, along with the full budget, is expected to get final approval next week. The Governor has said he will sign the budget.
Highlights of the package include:
- Transfers $800 million to the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Reserve.
- Appropriates $412 million for disaster recovery from previous events and mitigation efforts to prepare the state for future flooding and other natural disasters.
- $124 million for Tropical Storm Fred relief.
- $25 million for Golden L.E.A.F. that the foundation will use to help local governments plan or pursue resilience projects.
- $20 million to create a Flood Resiliency Blueprint to guide flood mitigation projects.
- $38 million to support flood mitigation in vulnerable areas.
- $32 million in grants to local governments for flood mitigation and disaster recovery projects.
- $40 million to the Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund for grants to local governments for storm damage mitigation projects.