Victims of Hurricane Matthew to get everlasting housing quickly

LUMBERTON — The last Hurricane Matthew victims living in government-provided mobile homes in Robeson County will have permanent housing soon.

Eighteen months after the hurricane roared through the county, seven families still are living in mobile homes provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said David Mace, a FEMA spokesman.

“We expect that all of them will have found permanent housing by the end of the summer,” Mace said Tuesday.

To date, FEMA has provided about $25.8 million in assistance to roughly 7,600 households in Robeson County, he said. The agency has provided about $99 million to about 26,000 North Carolina families to help with the repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed homes or property.

“In addition, FEMA has provided about $250 million to state, county, and local governments to reimburse them for the cost of repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed infrastructure, and for the costs associated with responding to and cleaning up after Matthew,” Mace said.

Mace said Rep. Garland Pierce, a Democrat from Wagram who represents part of Robeson County, was wrong when he said recently that the release of $236 million in federal funds the state received in the fall of 2017 to help Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts was being held up by FEMA regulations.

“The Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant disaster grant money that Rep. Pierce is apparently referring to is completely separate from FEMA and not in any way affected by the Stafford Act or other regulations relating to FEMA,” Mace said.

The Stafford Act is the federal legislation that created FEMA.

The federal housing agency issued a report in March saying North Carolina has not spent any of the $236 million.Image result for Victims of Hurricane Matthew to get permanent housing soon

“Yes the report is real and the $236 million has not been spent,” Sen. Danny Britt Jr. said recently. “This money goes directly to the (N.C.) Department of Emergency Management, an office under the direction of Gov. (Roy) Cooper. Due to multiple failures, this money has not yet been spent.”

The Republican from Lumberton who represents Robeson County laid the blame on a slow-moving state government. But progress is being made on getting the money released, he said.

“However we have met with and spoken with staff from the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the NCEM office,” Britt said in a more recent statement. “A response letter from my most recent letter of January was sent to me on April 13. Robeson County should be in line to start receiving funds as soon as May because we finally have a private administrator handling all roles of processing the funds.”

Britt, who serves on the Emergency Management Oversight Committee, had pushed for a private administrator.

Cooper’s office announced April 16 that Hurricane Matthew relief money will be released in May. The funds are part of the ReBuild NC program and made possible by North Carolina’s allocation of Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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