Last week, the North Carolina House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Dorian – including a number of ambitious new investments to make the coast more resilient to storms and flooding.
The House’s $280 million dollar package provides matching funds to draw down federal relief funding, as well as $30 million for the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resilience to aid local governments in recovery from Hurricane Matthew, Florence and Dorian, $32 million to improve flood mapping across the state and $15 million for Golden L.E.A.F. to provide disaster grants to governments and nonprofits.
In addition, the House bill also provides nearly $2 million to improve flood control and water quality in Hyde County. This investment is part of the Lake Mattamuskeet Restoration Plan, which the North Carolina Coastal Federation helped develop in partnership with a variety of local, state and federal stakeholders. The funding included in the House bill is a priority for the federation’s state policy work in Raleigh this year.
The House bill also includes $2 million to support living shoreline projects for NC Department of Transportation infrastructure along the coast. NCDOT operates 590 miles of highway within 100 feet of coastal waters and 2,700 miles of highway that is below an elevation of 10 feet. The funding in the House bill will be used to construct living shoreline projects to increase the resilience of coastal highways. NCDOT will prioritize projects for this funding in consultation with the federation and local governments.
The North Carolina Senate also approved Hurricane Dorian legislation last week. The Senate’s effort is more modest. It provides $70.8 million to match federal relief funds, as well as $31.7 million for similar projects that are part of the recovery from Hurricanes Matthew, Michael and Dorian. The Senate bill does not, however, include the resiliency investments that are part of the House bill.
The federation will be working with other coastal stakeholders in the next few weeks to convince lawmakers to include the Lake Mattamuskeet project as well as the Living Shorelines funding in their final Dorian relief legislation. Legislators return to Raleigh on Nov. 13 and 14 and are expected to finalize a Dorian relief bill. North Carolina Emergency Management officials have estimated that without legislative action the state could run out of matching funds for some storm recovery efforts before the end of November.
Thank you to all the supporters of the federation’s advocacy efforts. Your assistance allows the federation to speak up for the coast at the General Assembly and throughout state government.