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State Awards $24.5 million to Help Survivors into More Resilient Homes

Raleigh – Across central and eastern North Carolina, 187 homeowners will soon get $24.5 million in federal and state funds to acquire, elevate or reconstruct homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew, NC Emergency Management announced today.

“This is welcome help for some of the hardest hit communities, including Fair Bluff and Lumberton,” said state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “We know they’ve been eagerly awaiting this good news and are ready to get started with these projects to get families into more resilient homes.”

The sixth award of Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds will be used to reconstruct 56 homes, elevate 57 homes and buyout 74 properties so the homeowners can find housing outside the floodplain.

Today’s HMGP awards include:
*Bladen County – $245,931 to elevate 2 homes.
*Camden County – $327,144 to reconstruct 2 homes.
*Edgecombe County – $1,782,554 to elevate 15 homes.
*Town of Fair Bluff – $4,622,134 to elevate 17 homes and reconstruct 20 homes.
*City of Lumberton – $12,863,089 to elevate 20 homes, reconstruct 34 homes and acquire 47 properties.
*Robeson County – $2,401,094 to buyout 18 properties.
*Town of Smithfield – $1,779,713 to buyout 8 properties.
*Tyrrell County – $271,131 to elevate 2 homes.
*Town of Whiteville – $188,254 to elevate 1 home and buyout 1 property

Today’s announcement is in addition to $24.4 million in hazard mitigation grants to help 168 homeowners in impacted counties that NCEM has announced in the past two months. Sprayberry said today’s announcement will help more families than the previous five awards combined.

Now that FEMA has approved the projects, the state can enter into the required agreements with the receiving counties and municipalities and discuss program requirements. It is then up to each county or city to select contractors and begin the actual demolition work. The city or county will distribute the grant funds to the homeowner and will then be reimbursed by NCEM.
State emergency management officials anticipate approximately $115 million total in HMGP grants will be awarded to help Matthew survivors get into more flood-resistant homes. They hope to have all of the mitigation grants awarded by early August.

The federal program uses a combination of federal and state funds to elevate, reconstruct or buy-out qualified homeowners whose home is at risk of repeated damage from flooding. Following major disasters, a percentage of total federal recovery funds is designated to develop more resilient communities using one of the approved methods. North Carolina earned the status of an Enhanced Hazard Mitigation state based on its thorough plan and program history, meaning a larger portion of the program is paid for by federal funds. That enhanced status, which FEMA renewed in May, translated into an additional $25 million to help 210 more homeowners following Hurricane Matthew.

This program has proven its value repeatedly, helping protect homeowners from additional disasters. More than 4,000 North Carolina homeowners and properties have benefited from mitigation measures during the past 20 years.

In the months after Hurricane Matthew, NC Emergency Management staff evaluated more than 3,000 applications from homeowners for HMGP funding, 10 times the typical number as compared to similar disasters. As a comparison, it took staff 18 months to evaluate 300 applications after Hurricane Irene in 2011.

NCEM staff then submitted applications to FEMA to either acquire, elevate or reconstruct nearly 800 different properties damaged by Hurricane Matthew. NCEM supported local governments by writing each grant application on their behalf.

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