Burr, Tillis urge NC governor to enact state programs that provide relief to hurricane victims

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) took issue with how the North Carolina governor handled a recent request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seeking individual assistance for North Carolina counties suffering from September’s Hurricane Dorian.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Oct. 8 urged the senators to encourage the president to grant individual assistance to Carteret, Dare, Hyde, and New Hanover counties. “Individual assistance would provide federal dollars to individuals to cover Temporary Housing Assistance, lodging expenses reimbursement, home repair, home replacement, housing construction, and funds related to other disaster caused losses and damage,” wrote the governor, who also asked FEMA to provide public assistance for 12 additional counties.

President Donald Trump on Oct. 4 granted Gov. Cooper’s request for public assistance, providing funding to aid 14 counties in their recovery efforts.

Sens. Burr and Tillis said in a joint Oct. 10 statement that following FEMA’s announcement that four North Carolina counties did not qualify for individual assistance, their staffs met with representatives from the state’s Emergency Management office and with Gov. Cooper’s office to discuss next steps.

During that meeting, the senators said, Gov. Cooper’s staff acknowledged that they knew when they submitted the request that there was a strong likelihood it would be denied, and they confirmed that FEMA’s decision was based on data from the counties collected in partnership with the state.

“We strongly support requesting any potential federal aid, but misleading North Carolinians about why FEMA made their decision does a gross disservice to the men, women and families who are still rebuilding their lives,” said Sens. Tillis and Burr. “Thankfully, the state has assured us they have adequate funds to cover the needs in Carteret, Dare, Hyde, and New Hanover counties.”

The lawmakers urged Gov. Cooper against filing an appeal.

“Instead, he should activate available state programs that can get necessary funding to impacted areas without delay,” they said.