Audit finds $91M unused as of March 22 while thousands await hurricane repairs in North Carolina

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Friday, September 23, 2022 11:26PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new federal audit shows just how woefully delayed the response has been for recent hurricane victims in North Carolina.

Troubleshooter Diane Wilson was at a hearing earlier this month where lawmakers grilled officials with ReBuild NC, which is the state-run program that uses federal dollars to rebuild low-income storm-impacted communities throughout North Carolina.

The audit, which is separate from the legislative review, looked at how North Carolina spent the millions of dollars in disaster relief granted to the state by the federal government after Hurricanes Matthew in October 2016. The audit focused on grant activities in 2018 and early 2019 when the administration of the grant was being transferred from the N.C. Department of Commerce to the newly formed N. C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR).

North Carolina was later awarded an additional federal disaster recovery grant for Hurricane Florence, which is also administered by NCORR. As of the Sept. 14 hearing, the agency reports that out of the nearly 4,200 applicants that applied for relief since both storms, just 789 applicants have had their homes completely rebuilt or repaired.

Because of this slow response, thousands of hurricane victims remain homeless while they wait for the state to repair their homes.

The audit found that North Carolina had accepted more than $236 million for Hurricane Matthew disaster relief in 2017 and as of March 22, had spent $145.3 million of that amount on homeowner assistance and other long-term recovery initiatives.NCORR reports that as of Sept. 23, $170.6 million of the Matthew grant has been disbursed.

The audit determined that North Carolina had the capacity to administer the funds but it failed to follow proper procurement requirements and procedures.

To read the audit for yourself, click here.