$201 million NC disaster aid package goes to McCrory for his signature

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Passage of a relief package for cleanup and repairs following Hurricane Matthew and mountain wildfires is now done.

The Senate gave unanimous approval Wednesday to the $201 million proposal. The measure is designed to get more displaced residents into housing, give local governments help building infrastructure and provide the state forest service money for firefighting expenses.

The bill received final approval from the House and now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his expected signature.

The House had approved unanimously a slightly different version Tuesday.

The bill tells public schools that were shuttered for days or even weeks because of the hurricane to be required to only make up two instructional days. An amendment defeated on the House floor would have forgiven all the lost days.

Bill sponsors said another relief package likely would be considered early next year as more needs are calculated. Several hundred million additional dollars from Washington already has come to North Carolina or will soon.

Here are details of the $201 million Hurricane Matthew and wildfire aid package:

  •  $20 million to the state’s Housing Trust Fund to help working families who didn’t receive enough federal funds to rebuild homes.
  •  $9 million to the Division of Emergency Management to provide short-term housing needs for displaced residents
  • $11.5 million to emergency management to help counties affected by Hurricane Matthew with “resilient redevelopment planning” designed to help communities such as Princeville and Fair Bluff rebuild in ways to discourage future damages.
  •  $66.2 million for matching funds needed to participate in federal disaster assistance programs.
  •  $10 million to the state’s disaster relief fund.
  •  $25 million to the Golden LEAF Foundation for loans for small businesses damaged by the disasters and for grants to local governments to help construct sidewalks, wastewater systems and other projects that support new residences outside the 100-year flood plain.
  • $10 million to the Department of Commerce’s rural development division for grants to local governments to help construct sidewalks, wastewater systems and other projects that support new residences outside the 100-year flood plain.
  •  $10 million to the Department of Environmental Quality for wastewater system repairs and dam safety and to help local government mitigate flooded burial sites.
  •  $25.5 million to the North Carolina Forest Service for wildfire response expenses and timber restoration.
  •  $12.2 million to the Division of Soil and Water Conservation for stream debris removal and non-field farm road repairs.
  •  $250,000 to the Department of Agriculture for dike repairs at the Cherry Research Farm in Wayne County.
  • $1 million to the state Fire Marshal’s Office for grants for volunteer fire department repairs.
  •  $250,000 for the Department of Commerce to assess the need for business assistance funds.
  •  Prohibition of state funds to construct any new residences within the 100-year flood plan, with some exceptions.
  • Schools that were closed in October due to Hurricane Matthew and subsequent flooding only would have to make up two instructional days.
  •  Requirement of monthly reporting by the state budget office about the use of the funds.
  • Directs the $201 million to come from the state’s savings reserve account and unspent funds attributed in part to higher than anticipated tax collections so far this fiscal year.

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