The City of New Bern will resume certain utility fees that were suspended during hurricane Florence.
Due to the storm’s widespread impact across our area, the Board of Aldermen unanimously agreed in September to temporarily suspend late fees, delinquencies and shutoffs for nonpayment. The Board also agreed to waive new deposits for current customers until mid-November. These actions effectively extended the due date of unpaid bills until such time that the City could recover from the hurricane.
All past due amounts must be brought current by close of business on Friday, Dec. 7. If customers are unable to get caught up or current, they are encouraged to visit the Utility Business Office (UBO) at 606 Fort Totten Drive and speak to a customer service representative about a special storm payment arrangement.
The UBO is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointment is necessary. However, appointments are encouraged to reduce customer wait time.
These special storm payment arrangements will not count toward the four payment arrangements allowed each fiscal year under the City’s current business practices, but customers must remain current once the arrangement is made.
If the special storm payment arrangement is broken, the past due account balance must be paid in full. Attached is a document reflecting our business practices in regards to deposits and payment arrangements.
Late fees, delinquent fees and shutoffs for nonpayment will resume after Dec. 7. Deposit requirements will resume after Nov. 15. Deposits caused by late and delinquent actions will resume after Dec. 7.
The reinstatement of fees comes more than 80 days after hurricane Florence ravaged New Bern and eastern North Carolina.
“The Board of Aldermen and management staff have carefully considered this resumption of fees after the storm,” said Mark Stephens, City Manager. “We remain sympathetic to the hardships faced by our residents and are implementing special storm payment arrangements to ease the burden on our customers. We appreciate the community’s understanding during this recovery process.”
Utility staff are prepared to answer questions and assist customers with payment arrangements. As a reminder, customers have several options for paying City of New Bern utility bills: online at www.newbernnc.gov, at the Utility Business Office, and at Walmart stores in this area.
Approved counties: Currently nine North Carolina counties are approved for Direct Housing: Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Jones, Onslow, Pender and Robeson.
FEMA understands that rental resources and housing are limited in some areas. FEMA is working closely with the State of North Carolina to implement a targeted strategy to provide other forms of temporary housing to best meet the needs of displaced survivors.
FEMA has been participating in the state-led housing task force since Hurricane Florence first made landfall in North Carolina.
The state and FEMA are implementing a multi-pronged approach to temporarily house displaced survivors. Solutions are tailored to the individual needs and situations of survivors based on how quickly their homes can be repaired to a safe, sanitary, secure condition and the availability of housing options in their communities.
Based upon the needs identified by the State of North Carolina, FEMA is providing two forms of Direct Temporary Housing Assistance. The following Transportable Temporary Housing Units are available:
Recreation Vehicles (RVs) provide a timely, effective interim solution for most households with a high degree of confidence that repairs can be completed in less than a year, ideally within six months.
Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs) provide a longer-term solution for survivors whose repairs will take longer to complete due to higher degree of damage.
FEMA contacts households who potentially qualify for an RV or MHU through the Pre-Placement Interview process to determine whether they need Direct Housing and, if so, what type of housing they require based on the size and needs of the household, including any people with disabilities or other access or functional needs.
FEMA will identify households that may be able to have an RV or MHU placed on their property or in a commercial park.
Direct housing solutions FEMA implements are temporary in nature and are not permanent dwellings.
During a housing mission, federal contractors are managed and monitored by FEMA inspectors. Contractors must adhere to all applicable laws, codes and requirements.
Continuous coordination among FEMA, the state, counties and municipalities regarding the installation of transportable temporary housing units is a vital part of this mission.
The state and FEMA are coordinating with municipalities and counties regarding the requirements of local ordinances, zoning, transportation requirements, occupancy inspections, setbacks and more.
The state and FEMA are also coordinating the temporary housing effort with floodplain managers, environmental regulators, historic preservation officers, utility providers and other authorities identified by the state or municipalities.
The State of North Carolina and FEMA will be implementing additional programs in the coming days and weeks.
Survivors displaced from their homes due to Hurricane Florence must first apply for disaster assistance to be considered for FEMA programs such as Transitional Sheltering Assistance, financial rental assistance, grants for repairs to make their homes safe, sanitary and secure, and other forms of assistance.
Survivors can apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621- 3362 (voice, 711 or VRS) or 800-462-7585 (TTY). In-person American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are available by request by calling or texting 202-655-8824. (If possible, please allow 24 hours to schedule an interpreter).
LONGLEAF POLITICS | Hurricane Matthew struck eastern North Carolina on Oct. 9, 2016.
A full 18 months later, some of the first federally funded repairs are slated to begin this June.
Hurricane Matthew has re-emerged as a political issue in Raleigh as thousands of people in eastern North Carolina await public money to rebuild.
The storm was one of the most devastating in North Carolina’s history, killing 31 people and caused more than $4.8 billion in damage. Matthew set rainfall records in 17 counties, and 2,300 people were rescued from floodwaters.
Why is recovery taking so long?
It mostly has to do with the processes set up to distribute the roughly $1.7 billion in recovery aid expected from the federal and state government.
While the initial response from the N.C. National Guard and FEMA came quickly, North Carolina has been in no hurry to distribute money intended for longer-term recovery.
And as it turns out, there’s a huge difference between money that’s been approved — and money that’s actually been used.
The breakdown of funding sources is an alphabet soup of agencies, each with its own policies and mechanisms and hoops to jump through. State governments have incentives to get roads repaired quickly. Homes, not so much.
Here’s a quick explanation of how disaster recovery works. It’s ordered by how quickly money has been distributed.
Analysis by the Environmental Finance Center compares water and sewer revenues with operation and maintenance costs. Gray dots show municipal systems that have enough revenue to cover expenses. Peach-colored pentagons show show those with enough revenues to cover their combined expenses and debts. The bright red squares represent those without enough revenue to cover regular operating and maintenance expenses. Almost a quarter of systems across the state fall in those categories coming up short. Thanks, in part, to Florence and Matthew, many of those are clustered in the east.
CAROLINA PUBLIC PRESS
Taking stock of what it will take to rebuild after Hurricane Florence, it’s important to remember that even before this year’s hurricane season started, the finances of dozens of water and sewer systems throughout North Carolina were already underwater.
Some were damaged in prior storms. Many more across the state are caught in a long-term downward spiral of declining jobs and population.
As policymakers begin to shape the state’s rebuilding program in response to Hurricane Florence, they must deal with the already distressed systems and those damaged in the most recent storm. They must also come up with a long-term solution to a chronic statewide maintenance backlog.
These will be the key steps toward building resiliency, especially in the hard-hit eastern region of the state.
At a recent General Assembly committee meeting in Raleigh, Edgar Starnes, legislative liaison for the N.C. Department of State Treasurer, said 37 water and sewer systems in Florence disaster areas are going to need significant help dealing with the damage.
“The repairs they’re going to face are going to be very expensive,” he told members of a joint House and Senate committee studying water and sewer systems in a post-storm assessment held in late September. “They’re in a lot of trouble because of the flood right now.”
The damage to those systems and the floods that followed resulted in tens of millions of gallons of wastewater and sewage spills.
Some of the systems were the same as those damaged in 2016, when Hurricane Matthew roared through many of the same communities.
On Tuesday, May 22 at 9 a.m., the City and its grant partners will celebrate the completion of two projects that enhance bicycle and pedestrian access along two of New Bern’s busiest corridors. The event will be held at H.J. MacDonald Middle School located at 3127 Elizabeth Avenue.
Thanks to two grants provided by the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the city has completed a multi-use path along the Glenburnie Road corridor and installed new sidewalks along Neuse Boulevard. Both projects provide greater access and improved bicycle and pedestrian safety with several connections to surrounding communities and businesses. The grants were awarded in 2014 and provided the City with up to $1.04 million in construction cost reimbursement.
The Glenburnie Road corridor project provides a 10-foot wide multi-use path on the east and west sides of the road, stretching from Elizabeth Avenue to Neuse Boulevard. Construction included the installation of crosswalk signaling at Elizabeth Avenue and Glenburnie Road.
Along Neuse Boulevard, phase two of a sidewalk improvement project makes it easier to get to the hospital, medical offices, and restaurants and businesses. Sidewalks were installed on the north side of this busy corridor from Hospital Drive to Glenburnie Road.
Construction for both of the projects began in early 2016. All grading and concrete work was completed in March of 2017 and pedestrian signals were added to several key intersections in March of 2018. With the completion of these two projects, New Bern now has a 5.75 mile contiguous pedestrian access that runs from the western end of Elizabeth Avenue to Union Point Park.
Tuesday’s celebration will include comments by Diane Hampton, NCDOT Division Corridor Engineer, City and school officials, and participation by H.J. MacDonald Middle School students who will celebrate by walking to the Glenburnie Road intersection and using the new crosswalk signaling to cross the street. The ceremony will last approximately 30 minutes.