The state is seeking public input on how to spend $168 million dollars in communities affected by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. Public meetings are being held this week in Eastern North Carolina to gather feedback on how to develop a state action plan with funds from the U.S. Department of Urban and Housing Development’s Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation program. Federal guidelines require the funds to be used for community projects that strengthen local infrastructure and reduce future losses.
“They want us to look at mitigation projects that would affect the health, life, and safety of a community before a storm hits,” said Laura Hogshead, the chief operating officer for the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “So that could be infrastructure, buyouts, that could be planning. We’re really hoping to hear from the community what would be most useful for each community.”
Under HUD rules, at least 50% of the money must go to the “most impacted and distressed areas” from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. 70% of the funds must go to activities to benefit low to moderate income residents.
“And they have told us those counties from Matthew, they are Cumberland, Edgecombe, Robison, Wayne, Columbus, and Bladen counties,” said Hogshead. “They have not told us yet officially what those counties are for Florence, but we know they are our coastal communities.”
According to a news release, this mitigation program funding is separate from CDBG-DR funding used to assist individual households. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and presentations begin at 6:30 p.m. at all three public hearings:
Monday, Oct. 14
Robeson Community College A.D. Lewis Auditorium (Building 15)
5160 Fayetteville Road, Lumberton, NC 28360
Tuesday, Oct. 15
Edgecombe Community College Keihin Auditorium
2009 W. Wilson Street, Tarboro, NC 27886
Wednesday, Oct. 16
Grover C. Fields Middle School Performing Arts Center
2000 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, New Bern, NC 28560