Florence flooding: Gov. Cooper continues survey of flood damage, announces housing assistance program

Governor Roy Cooper visited Brunswick County and Columbus County Saturday as he continued his survey of areas impacted by Hurricane Florence.

During his various trips, he's met with federal, state, and local officials, as well as evacuees and volunteers.

RELATED: Governor Cooper visits Lumberton to assess damage

"Florence has officially claimed 32 lives in North Carolina. We don't want to lose any more people," said Cooper during a Saturday morning press conference.

Cooper announced there are still more than 500 road closures statewide, with authorities continuing to plead with people to avoid driving around barriers and road signs.

"We're asking everyone to please be patient, if you don't have to try into the impacted areas, then please do not," Col. Glenn McNeill with NC DPS urged.

Those road closures have played a part in thousands of people still unable to return to their homes, a point Governor Cooper explained authorities are addressing.

"The Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which is essentially temporary housing, will be initiated Monday in nine counties," Cooper said.

The Governor's Office has also requested the federal government to cover 100% of the costs associated with the disaster response for the first 30 days, opposed to the typical 75 percent they cover.

RELATED: FEMA Disaster Recovery Center opens in Fayetteville to help victims of Florence

FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Albie Lewis, who has accompanied Cooper on these tours of the flood-damaged areas, provided an update into federal funding assistance.

"I'm happy to report that as of this morning we've already approved over $12 million for North Carolinians to help in their recovery," said Lewis.

That number will only grow, with the Governor's Office reporting more than 61,000 survivors have already requested federal disaster assistance.

"I know North Carolina can rebuild, we have to rebuild in a smart way," Cooper said. "We have to understand when you have two so called 500 year floods within 22 months of each other, not sure you're talking about a 500 year flood anymore. We've got something else on our hands."

Robeson County officials, citing the National Weather Service, report the Lumber River is slowly falling and the water level will continue to decline. A curfew is in place in Robeson County from 8 PM to 7 AM.

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