Republican Lawmakers Support Bill To Expedite Disaster Funds

Aug 29, 2019

Hurricane Matthew caused $4.8 billion in damages across North Carolina in 2016.
Credit Jared Brumbaugh

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced a bill Wednesday that would expedite Hurricane Matthew assistance and streamline allocations for future storms. The Ensuring Disaster Recovery for Local Communities Act would allow cities and counties to request to receive federal disaster assistance directly if the state fails to distribute funds within 18 months. The legislation also directs the U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of buyout programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and make recommendations on how to expedite funding to residents. According to a news release, the state administration has only allocated 7% of the $236.5 million U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds for Hurricane Matthew survivors. 

A report from the N.C. General Assembly Program Evaluation Division released in May 2019 found that administrative missteps and a lack of expertise led to delays in Hurricane Matthew recovery funds reaching recipients. The report also found that the State implemented several noncompliant contracts for CDBG-DR, resulting in delays and approximately $3.7 million unnecessary spending. 

N.C. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office released a statement Wednesday criticizing Tillis and Republican legislative leaders saying that they should “set politics aside” and help storm survivors, adding that zero funding has been allocated for those affected by Hurricane Florence. Tillis plans to introduce The Ensuring Disaster Recovery for Local Communities Act once the Senate is back in session early next month.