Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen today announced that North Carolina will remain in Safer at Home Phase 2 for three more weeks. Cooper also announced that face coverings must be worn when people are in public places as officials seek to stabilize concerning trends of increasing viral spread.
Cooper and Cohen were joined by Dennis Taylor, President of the North Carolina Nurses Association and Eugene A. Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health.
“North Carolina is relying on the data and the science to lift restrictions responsibly, and right now our increasing numbers show we need to hit the pause button while we work to stabilize our trends,” said Governor Cooper. “We need to all work together so we can protect our families and neighbors, restore our economy, and get people back to work and our children back to school.”
“I know North Carolinians are strong, resilient and care deeply about our communities. We pride ourselves on helping our neighbors. The best way we can do that now is by taking the simple action of wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth. If we each do our part, we can get back to the people and places we love,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, NCDHHS Secretary.
Growing evidence shows that cloth face coverings, when worn consistently, can decrease the spread of COVID-19, especially among people who are not yet showing symptoms of the virus. Until now, face coverings had been strongly recommended. Under today’s executive order, people must wear face coverings when in public places where physical distancing is not possible.
In addition, certain businesses must have employees and customers wear face coverings, including retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming; employees of child care centers and camps; state government agencies under the Governor’s Cabinet; workers and riders of transportation; and workers in construction/trades, manufacturing, agriculture, meat processing and healthcare and long-term care settings.
“Wearing a face covering is an easy thing to do that can make a huge impact for all of us. A major spike in cases would be catastrophic to the system, and without your cooperation, nurses and our fellow healthcare providers will have a harder time caring for sick patients for weeks and months to come,” said Dennis Taylor, a nurse, and President of the North Carolina Nurses Association.
“As the leader of the state’s largest health system, I am pro-health and also 100 percent pro-business. In fact, the two are inextricably connected and I’m very proud of the way business leaders and health experts are working together to keep our economy strong,” said Eugene A. Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health. “Medical science says to reduce the spread of COVID-19 masking works, and my sincere hope is that all the people of North Carolina can join forces to make wearing a mask not something we feel we have to do – but something that we want to do to keep each other, our neighbors, our children and our loved ones healthy and safe”
Based on the metrics laid out in April by Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen, North Carolina is evaluating a combination of the data from the following categories that shows the indicators moving in the wrong direction, causing officials to implement today’s pause in Phase 2.
Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.
Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases starting to level, but is still increasing.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive remains elevated.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations are increasing, though we have capacity in our healthcare system.
In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:
North Carolina is averaging more than 17,000 tests a day for the past week and there are more than 500 sites listed on online plus additional pop-up sites.
North Carolina labs and labs around the country are seeing supply shortages for laboratory chemicals needed to process tests.
There are over 1,500 full-time and part-time staff supporting contact tracing efforts at the local health department level, including the 309 Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative contact tracers. These new hires reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, and 44% are bilingual.
Personal Protective Equipment
Our personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.
Businesses can download templates for signs on face coverings here. Downloadable social media graphics are also available for use.
Governor Roy Cooper took action to the address the spread of COVID-19 by issuing stronger social distancing requirements and speeding up the process to get benefits to people out of work through Executive Order No. 131.
Three key areas are addressed in Executive Order 131. The first requires retail stores that are still operating to implement new social distancing policies to make shopping safer for customers and employees. The second makes earlier COVID-19 guidelines mandatory for nursing facilities and recommends other long-term care facilities to do the same. The third area is unemployment benefits, issuing changes that will speed up certain benefit payments to those who are out of work.
“North Carolina continues to take strong action to slow the spread of COVID-19, and today’s Order will help make stores safer, protect those living and working in nursing homes, and get more unemployment benefits out quicker. Our state is resilient, and we will get through this crisis together if we all do our part,” said Governor Cooper.
POLICIES FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING IN RETAIL STORES
This Order offers clear requirements that essential businesses must implement in order to safeguard the health of customers and employees. Some of the directives include:
– Setting limits of how many people can be in a store at one time, 5 people per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20% of fire marshal posted occupancy limits
– Marking 6 feet of distance for areas where people gather like checkout lines
– Requiring specific cleaning measures for retail stores
The Order encourages:
– Implementing hygiene recommendations for employees and customers, like hand sanitizer at the doors and face coverings for workers
– Establishing designated shopping times designated for high-risk groups
– Creating barriers between customers and employees at checkout to lower the risk of required interactions
– Creating barriers between customers and employees at checkout to lower the risk of required interactions
The Order states these requirements will last for thirty days unless extended by further executive action.
LOWERING RISK IN LONG TERM CARE FACILITIES
The Order sets public health and safety requirements for nursing homes during the public health emergency. The Order encourages other long-term care facilities to follow the same guidance. Some of the directives include:
– Canceling communal activities, including group meals
– Taking the temperature of employees and essential personnel when they enter the facility
– Requiring specific personal protective equipment in the facility
– Requiring close monitoring of residents for COVID-19 health indicators like body temperature
The Order states these requirements will last until this order is repealed.
STREAMLINING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIMS
The Order makes it easier for employers to file a batch of claims, called an attached claim, on behalf of their employees. By temporarily eliminating some of the hurdles for employers, benefits can get in the hands of those who need them faster.
The Order will extend 60 days beyond the date the state of emergency is lifted to allow employers to get back on their feet.
Additionally, the Division of Employment Services issued information on timing of federal benefits reaching North Carolinians today.
Read the full Order.
Read questions and answers about specific items in the order.
Make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, which includes daily updates on positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.
Frequently Asked Questions for Executive Order No. 131 April 9, 2020
This Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) document provides guidance for the implementation of Executive Order No. 131 (“Order”). On Thursday, April 9, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order that provides new required and recommended policies for retail establishments, addresses COVID-19 mitigation measures for long-term care facilities, and expedites the processing of unemployment insurance claims by expanding availability of the attached claims process.
This information is subject to change in light of new CDC guidance and additional Executive Orders or local government declarations.
Required and Recommended Policies for Retail Establishments
Which retail businesses are covered by this Executive Order?
This Executive Order (“the Order”) applies to any business in which customers enter to purchase goods or services, including, but not limited to, grocery stores, big box retail stores, pharmacies, ABC stores, banks, hardware stores, and vehicle dealerships. The Order does not apply to outdoor farmers markets. Retail businesses that have been closed by previous Executive Orders or by orders of their local governments are not permitted to reopen.
What is the occupancy limit imposed on retail establishments by the Order?
The Order limits retail establishments to no more than 20 percent of the business’s stated fire capacity or five customers for every one thousand square feet of the retail location’s total square footage. Retail locations may choose which of the two calculations on which they base their maximum occupancy. For the square footage calculation, it includes the full footprint of the interior building, and all retail- and non-retail space.
What other requirements does the Order place on retail establishments?
The Order requires retail establishments to clearly mark six feet of spacing in lines at cash registers and in other high-volume areas to ensure proper social distancing. It also requires businesses to perform frequent and routine cleaning of high-touch areas.
What recommendations does the Order make for retail establishments?
The Order recommends that all open retail establishments:
• Supply and encourage the use of cloth face coverings for employees if it is not possible
to stay at least 6 feet apart, and provide education for employees on the use of cloth
• Place hand sanitizer at entry and exit points, and to have wipes or sprays available to
sanitize carts and baskets, and have their employees wash their hands or use hand
sanitizer between each customer interaction;
• Designate exclusive shopping times for seniors and other high-risk groups;
• Post signs to remind customers and employees about social distancing; and
• Establish systems for online, email or phone ordering, no-contact curbside or drive-through pickup or home delivery, and contact-free checkout.
The Order also recommends that high-volume retail establishments use shields at cash registers, clearly mark designated entry and exit points, and provide store routing guidance.
Who will enforce the Order?
The Governor expects retail establishments will comply with the Order to ensure the safety of their employees and customers and believes that most of them will. If necessary, the Order will be enforced by local law enforcement.
Does this executive order preempt similar orders put in place by local jurisdictions?
Where local emergency prohibitions or restrictions directly contradict the Order in regard to maximum occupancy requirements, social distancing markings, and cleaning and disinfection, the Executive Order amends any prohibitions or restrictions imposed by local emergency declarations by amending any language that directly conflicts with this Section (Section 1, A-C) of the Executive Order. For these three areas specifically, the Order creates a statewide standard for retail establishments. Local emergency prohibitions or restrictions that regulate other aspects of retail establishments are not affected by this Order.
Long Term Care Risk Mitigation Measures
At what point can a sick staff person come back to work?
Long-term care facilities must remind staff to stay home while they are sick. Employees should follow CDC guidelines on returning to work, including: having no fever for three full days without the use medicine that reduces fevers; other symptoms that have improved; and
at least 7 days having passed since symptoms first appeared. The CDC guidelines can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/return-to-work.html.
Employers may also consider requesting that employees who have tested positive for COVID- 19 obtain a note from a qualified healthcare professional indicating that the employee is fit to return to work and that it is safe for that person to be in the workplace.
What if my facility runs out of face masks?
If you do not have a face mask, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in areas of significant community-based transmission such as long-term care facilities. Please refer to the CDC’s guidance on wearing cloth face coverings at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
Do I have to wear a face mask at all times even when I am on break or not in the presence of residents?
Yes. Skilled Nursing Facility staff should always wear a face mask.
I just discovered that an employee/resident is suspected of having COVID-19. What should I do?
Contact your local health department immediately. Your health department will provide guidance regarding what action to take next.
I work in an independent living apartment complex, correctional facility, or another facility that is not listed in the Order.
Does this Order apply to me?
These provisions only apply to the long-term care facilities listed explicitly in the Order. However, other facilities must abide by the applicable directives in other COVID-19 statewide executive orders. In addition, these facilities are encouraged to follow the COVID-19 guidance issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/covid19/covid-19-guidance.
Are visitors allowed in long-term care facilities?
Consistent with Executive Order Nos. 120 and 121, no one should visit a nursing home, skilled nursing facility, residential care facility, or any other long-term care facility unless it is an end- of-life visit.
Expediting Processing of Certain Unemployment Insurance Claims
How will this Order assist North Carolinians who have lost their jobs as result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
This Order enables the North Carolina Division of Employment Security, the division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce which processes unemployment claims (the “Division”), to more quickly process certain claims filed by North Carolina employers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to expedite the availability of financial relief to employees.
Which unemployment claims does this Order apply to?
The Order applies to those claims submitted through the “attached claims” process. This Order applies to those attached claims which are filed by an employer on behalf of an employee in the event of the employee’s partial unemployment and which are submitted through the Division’s automated process.
This Order enables the Division to exercise more flexibility with respect to processing and issuing relief for attached claims filed by employers on behalf of their employees who have suffered partial unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What flexibility does this Order give to the Division with regard to processing attached claims?
Under normal circumstances, the attached claims process is only available to employers if they meet certain conditions, including that the employer have a positive credit balance with the Division at the time the claim is filed, and that the employer immediately pay to the Division the full amount of the benefit payable to the employee at the time the claim is filed. In addition, benefits issued by the attached claims process are only available for six weeks a year and an employer may only utilize the attached claims process with respect to an employee once per benefit year.
The Governor recognizes that many North Carolinians have felt the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and wishes to lift barriers to the attached claims process to more quickly get unemployment insurance checks into the hands of North Carolinians in need.
Accordingly, the Order will enable the Division to not require that an employer filing an attached claim pay the full amount of the benefit payable to the employee at the time the claim is filed, and the Order will also enable the Division to accept those claims by employers who do not have a positive credit balance at the time the claim is filed. In addition, the Order will enable the Division to not reject claims if they are in excess of six weeks and if they are filed on behalf of employee more than once in a benefit year.
What other actions has the Division taken to get much-needed financial relief into the hands of North Carolinians more quickly?
The Division has taken a number of steps to more expediently process unemployment claims. These actions include:
• Hiring 50 new staff;
• Adding 100 staff from Division of Workforce Solutions Career Centers;
• Contracting with an additional 200-person call center;
• Adding computer servers to ensure capacity for large number of people filing online;
• Doubling printing and mail capacity to ensure timely delivery of documents; and
• Purchasing more than 500 new computers and other equipment so employees in the office and at home can work to process claim.
For more information, visit: https://des.nc.gov/news/press-releases/2020/04/03/des-working- immediately-expand-capacity-response-surge-covid-19.
I am a North Carolina employer seeking to file an attached claim on behalf of my employees. How do I get more information on the process and begin a claim?
To obtain information on how file an attached claim on behalf of your employees, visit: https://des.nc.gov/need-help/covid-19-information/covid-19-information-employers
The page will be updated with the new process following the signing of the Order.
I am a North Carolina employer seeking to file attached claims on behalf of my employees; how will this impact my 2020 first quarter unemployment payment to the Division?
The Order allows for employers seeking to file attached claims to submit their claims in advance of their 2020 first quarter unemployment payment. The 2020 first quarter unemployment payment remains due and payable to the Division.
Secretary of Revenue Ronald G. Penny announced today that the North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) is expanding tax relief as part of Governor Roy Cooper’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCDOR will not impose penalties for late filing or payments of many tax types, including sales and use and withholding taxes, through July 15. The NCDOR previously announced tax relief for individuals, corporations, partnerships, trusts, and estates.
“These measures will come as welcome tax relief for individuals and businesses across North Carolina,” Penny said. “We are providing the maximum flexibility under existing state law.”
In the notice issued today, the NCDOR announced that it will not impose penalties for failure to obtain a license, failure to file a return, or failure to pay a tax that is due on March 15, 2020 through July 15, 2020, if the corresponding license is obtained, return is filed, or tax is paid on or before July 15, 2020.
The NCDOR cannot waive interest from the due date under current state law–currently 5% per year, the minimum rate allowed by statute. Additionally, sales and use and withholding taxes are trust taxes and the money collected must be remitted to the state and cannot be used for other purposes.
The relief from Late Action Penalties applies to the following tax types:
• Withholding Tax
• Sales and Use Tax
• Scrap Tire Disposal Tax
• White Goods Disposal Tax;
• Motor Vehicle Lease and Subscription Tax
• Solid Waste Disposal Tax
• 911 Service Charge for Prepaid Telecommunications Service
• Dry-Cleaning Solvent Tax
• Primary Forest Products Tax
• Freight Car Line Companies
• Various Taxes Administered by the Excise Tax Division
New Bern received a mediocre score for family friendliness in North Carolina from WalletHub, a website that produces data-driven articles ranking various subjects in various categories.
In ranking North Carolina cities for “2019’s Best Places to Raise a Family in North Carolina,” New Bern ranked 56th out of 87 cities. The top-ranked city was Cary, while coming in at 87th was Laurinburg.
In Eastern North Carolina, Havelock — you read that right — was the highest rated city in the survey, coming in at 35th. Other Eastern NC cities were Wilmington (44th), Greenville (53rd), Jacksonville (59th), Wilson (70th), Elizabeth City (75th), Tarboro (77th), Goldsboro (81st), and Kinston (84th).
Taking just Eastern North Carolina cities into account, then, New Bern ranked fourth, just behind Greenville and ahead of Jacksonville.
The rankings took into consideration 10 metrics, of which New Bern did better than average in just three: violent-crime rate per capita, unemployment rate, and playgrounds per capita.
New Bern ranked low in several categories, including percentage of families with children under age 17, median family income, and high school graduation rate. It rated near the bottom — 72nd — in housing affordability.
New Bern appears at the top of many lists, from Top Charming Small Towns to Top Small Retirement Towns, but these are typically niche categories. Raising a family is about as fundamental to a city’s purpose as you can get, and New Bern’s ranking, indeed rankings of all Eastern North Carolina cities, should raise some red flags and help policymakers in making decisions.
The data used in these rankings is entirely publicly available, and is the same information that companies look at when determining expansion and relocations.
True, New Bern is constantly looking for ways to up its game. But take one example, the planned Martin-Marietta Park. New Bern already ranks high for playgrounds per capita (24th in the state). Martin-Marietta Park won’t move the bar one iota in rankings such as these, even if it’s a park that is physically larger than most of Craven County’s smaller cities.
The focus should be where New Bern and Craven County are average or weak — median family income, quality of school system, high school graduation rate, poverty rate, and perhaps foremost, housing affordability.
Here are specific rankings for New Bern:
Raising a Family in New Bern (1=Best; 43=Avg.; 87=Worst)
64th– % of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17
57th– Median Family Income (adjusted for cost of living)
State Rep. Michael Speciale is seeking to fill the late Walter Jones’ unexpired seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Other candidates who have announced plans to run include Phillip Shepard and Philip Law. Michele Nix, vice-chairman of the NCGOP, is also reportedly preparing to announce her candidacy.
“After much encouragement and prayer, Michael Speciale of Craven County has decided to run for the U.S. House seat for District 3. This seat was left vacant by the untimely passing of Walter B. Jones,” Jones said in a news release.
Jones died Feb. 10 and his funeral was held Feb. 14. N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper must declare a vacancy on the congressional seat to exist and set a date for a special election to fill the remainder of Jones’ two-year term.
Speciale said he is known for standing up for what he believes is right for the people of his district. However, he has also said he does not represent people in his district with whom he disagrees. More on Speciale here, here, and here.
During his time at the state House of Representatives,
Speciale has backed legislation banning gay marriage, arming school teachers, and restoring North Carolina’s ability to leave the country.
According to Wikipedia, during a debate for an Anti-Puppy Mill Bill, which was a central focus for the First Lady of North Carolina, Ann McCrory’s legislative interests, Speciale stated: “Exercise on a daily basis – if I kick him across the floor, is that daily exercise? ‘Euthanasia performed humanely’ – so I should choose the ax or the baseball bat?”
Speciale said in his news release that he believes in God, country, family, the free market, personal responsibility and smaller government.
“He is unapologetic for what he believes and has made media headlines for standing strong for those positions. He is a strong constitutional conservative who remains true to those values that have made America great,” he said in his release.
Speciale is in his fourth term as the representative for the North Carolina House District 3 seat, which covers a large portion of Craven County.
He previously represented Beaufort and Pamlico Counties as well.
Speciale is Chairman of the Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, Vice-Chairman of State and Local Government, and a member of the Transportation, Elections & Ethics Law, Appropriations and Appropriations Justice, and Public Safety committees.
Speciale is the founder and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.
Speciale is a retired Marine and a member of Freedom Baptist Church in Havelock.
He was twice elected as the Craven County Republican Party Chairman, is a former chairman of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA), as well as a graduate Fellow of the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership (NCIOPL).
He is a graduate of Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) at Craven Community College, and he has an Associate in Applied Sciences in Business Management/Operations Management.
Speciale is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA).
He and his wife Hazel live in the New Bern area and have been married nearly 45 years. They have two children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The impact of the 2018 tropical systems in North Carolina wasn’t confined to coastal areas. Near the state’s geographical center, the route of N.C. 42 through Carbonton runs under floodwaters from the Deep River on Sept. 18, in eastern Chatham County, near Lee and Moore counties. Courtesy of the N.C. Department of Transportation.
CAROLINA PUBLIC PRESS | Hurricanes Florence and Michael caused school districts in their paths to miss several days of school. The state is helping districts avoid official penalties, but educators across the state are divided about the long-term wisdom of losing so many days of instruction.
As school districts recovered from Florence, Gov. Roy Cooper signed legislation Oct. 3 to grant calendar flexibility to schools in districts with federal disaster declarations. This allows the districts to waive up to 20 days of absences if they choose to. That choice isn’t necessarily automatic.
According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, 30 counties have been federally declared for both individual assistance and public assistance, and 11 counties have been declared for public assistance only. School districts located in counties with either of these types of declarations can take advantage of the waiver policy. Although the legislation originally applied to those affected by Florence, it also covers districts with declarations due to Michael.
Valita Quattlebaum, chief communications officer for New Hanover County Schools, said her district will be using this waiver in addition to creating a new calendar to recoup days. Hurricane Florence heavily affected the coastal district’s schools and means of transportation, she said.
“We were out 17 days,” Quattlebaum said. “We had to get our buildings cleaned up, we had to clear up debris and make our campus safe enough for students to go into. We had repairs to do, get rid of damaged furniture, things that had gotten wet.”
Gov. Roy Cooper directed $25 million from the North Carolina Education Lottery Fund on Tuesday to speed repairs to K-12 public schools damaged by Hurricane Florence.
“Students need to get back to learning and educators need to get back to teaching, but many school districts can’t afford the repairs schools need,” Cooper said. “The lives of thousands of students, teachers and families are on hold and they need our help to recover.”
While many schools have reopened since Hurricane Florence struck last month, seven North Carolina school systems remain closed, keeping more than 130 schools out of operation and nearly 90,000 students out of class.
Just four of Craven County’s 23 public schools were open for class on Monday. Three schools in Jones County will have to be entirely rebuilt.
Several affected school districts have depleted most of their contingency funds and need immediate financial assistance to repair roofs, flooring and electrical wiring, eradicate mold and mildew and replace furniture to get schools reopened.
The emergency funds will be administered by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Priority will be given to district and charter schools in Brunswick, Craven, Duplin, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Robeson counties that have immediate repair needs and are not currently in operation.
Some of the repairs should be reimbursable by federal disaster recovery funds. Transferring the money now gives schools quicker help and allows them to retain contractors to speed repairs.
George Alsberg, age 103, of Wilmington, was one of the oldest voluntary evacuees of Hurricane Florence. Photo credit: Taylor Knopf
NORTH CAROLINA HEALTH NEWS |
That’s the takeaway from a state-compiled list of the adults who died as a result of the catastrophic storm. It shows that two out of three North Carolinians who died during or as a result of Florence were 60 or older, and nearly half were 70 or older. The median age of adults who died during or as a result of the storm was 67, while the statewide median age is 38.3.
“Vulnerable adults are more likely to be impacted because of their social isolation, or not having the supports they needed in areas like transportation,” said Heather Burkhardt, program coordinator at Resources for Seniors in Raleigh.
The list of deaths tied to the catastrophic September storm grew to 39 on Oct. 1, when Gov. Roy Cooper announced two deaths, one of a Pender County man, 69, who fell off a roof Sept. 22 while repairing storm damage. A list supplied by the Department of Public Safety showed that people older than 65 represented:
Six of 11 people who drowned in motor vehicle accidents,
Five of six people who died of medical causes such as cardiopulmonary distress or COPD
A couple, 86, who died in a fire caused by the use of candles while power was out.
Three of the victims were infants and two others did not have listed ages. Of the 34 adult deaths with ages attached, 21 were older than 65.
Perhaps the most poignant death was that of a man, 82, who committed suicide in Carteret County after Florence devastated his home. “Shot self when house condemned,” read the terse DPS account of the death.
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.