I-Team: $7 billion being spent on Hurricane Florence, up to $1 billion on hold

Monday, September 16, 2019
I-Team examines where Florence relief money is
I-Team examines where Florence relief money is

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Hurricane Florence inflicted an estimated $17 billion worth of damage - about two thirds of North Carolina's state budget for the last fiscal year.

The cost is overwhelming, and historically, the total price tag for severe weather is almost never paid back in full, or even close. Still, between private insurance and public investment, significant funds are pouring into ravaged communities and jumpstarting many families as they rebuild and restore their lives and livelihoods.

Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 16, 2018, and exactly one year later, an ABC11 I-Team analysis finds roughly $7 billion either distributed, approved or obligated, and an additional pot of up to $1 billion on hold.

Here are some of the key facts on both public and private hurricane assistance:

  • Hurricane victims in North Carolina filed 363,179 claims with private insurance companies, including flood insurance, worth $4,884,710,422.95. Data obtained by the I-Team shows more than 90 percent of those cases being closed and payouts at $3,701,918,192.09. Federal flood insurance has been the fastest to return money, closing 96.6 percent and paying out $601,184,435. Business Interruption, with only 75.8 percent of cases closed, has paid out $105,171,043.26. According to officials at the NC Department of Insurance, it's possible the open cases will result in the remaining monies being approved.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved $132.6 million in individual and household grants for 34,691 homeowners and renters. All of the funds have been distributed. FEMA has also approved $303,107,597.80 in Public Assistance Grants, which reimburse state agencies, local governments and eligible non-profits. NC Emergency Management officials expect that number to potentially double in the next year or two as cities, counties and the state file more applications.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration approved disaster loans totaling more than $405.4 million for 10,051 applicants.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved $336.5 million in Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Relief, but those monies have not been processed by the Federal Register. The North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency reports awarding $108 million in those funds to homeowners, small business and local governments, but the state does not yet have access to those funds.
  • The Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Act was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly on Oct. 2, 2018. As of June 30, 2019, $438,033,712 of $709,750,477 (61.7 percent) has been spent or obligated to be spent. There is a remaining balance of $271,716,765. According to officials in the Office of State Budget and Management, the cash still on hand is essential in matching federal funds which have yet to be awarded, including Hazard Mitigation.

Among those major payouts are more specific allotments, which include the following:

  • The Agriculture Disaster Assistance Program has processed 7,485 applications from 72 counties, with $171.3 million paid to farmers affected by Hurricane Florence.
  • The Department of Environmental Quality's Hurricane Florence Commercial Fishing Assistance Program has paid $11.6 million to commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters to help make up for income lost because of the storm.
  • $11.3 million in state disaster recovery grants were awarded to Craven, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Scotland counties, and the City of Lumberton. The grants will be used to help low-to-moderate income, elderly and/or disabled storm survivors who are living in unsafe, unsanitary housing that poses an urgent safety or health risk. The grants can also be used for mitigation reconstruction and acquisition activities

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) helped more than 49,000 people get crisis counseling and ongoing behavioral health care.

State Housing Recovery Centers

There are currently five state housing recovery centers open to provide rental assistance, housing leads and financial information. Below are their current locations and hours. County Location Hours

  • Craven - 2825 Neuse Blvd. New Bern, NC 28562 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. to Fri.
  • Jones - 134 Office A Industrial Park Drive, Trenton, NC 28585 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon to Fri.
  • New Hanover - 1241 Military Cutoff Road Wilmington, NC 28405 (Side entrance of the Northeast Library) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. to Fri.
  • Onslow - 127 Center St., Jacksonville, NC 28546 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon to Fri.
  • Pamlico - Bay River Commons 210 Vandemere Road/Hwy 304 Unit C, Bayboro, NC 28515 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon to Fri.

Disaster Case Management

Individuals who suffered losses not covered by state or local government programs may use Disaster Case Management services. The state has contracted with experienced case managers who will work with faith-based and volunteer organizations to help meet survivors' unmet needs.

To contact the Disaster Case Management service provider, please email: DCMNC@Endeavors.org or call one of the two offices:

Residents of Anson, Bladen, Brunswick, Chatham, Columbus, Cumberland, Durham, Guilford, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Moore, New Hanover, Orange, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Union counties should call the Fayetteville office at (910) 672-6175.

Residents of Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Wayne, and Wilson counties should call the Jacksonville office at (910) 378-4913.