Duke Energy awarded a $5,000 grant to Swiss Bear, Inc. and the City of New Bern to be used for flood resiliency planning. This brings the total amount of grant funding for the planning phase to $30,000.
The City received a $10,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Swiss Bear was awarded $15,000 from Wells Fargo. Additional grants are being sought.
The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season brought devastating effects to New Bern and surrounding areas. Hurricane Florence, the first major hurricane of the season, made landfall in mid-September.
New Bern and eastern North Carolina bore the brunt of coastal tidal surge during the storm. In addition to tidal surge, Florence brought an estimated 20 inches of rainfall to New Bern. Damages to residential and commercial properties totaled $100 million.
Then, less than a month later, hurricane Michael came up the eastern seaboard. Although downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached the Carolinas, Michael packed 30 mph winds and dumped more rain on an already devastated region of eastern North Carolina.
Swiss Bear and the City of New Bern are spearheading flood mitigation and resilience planning to include all areas of vulnerability.
“We appreciate Duke Energy recognizing the impacts of this storm and assisting the City with funding for the planning phase,” said Mark Stephens, New Bern city manager. “As a utility provider, their crews saw the destruction up close after Florence. Their corporate partnership will help in this process.”
Flood resiliency planning will not only focus on structures and infrastructure, but also on environmental protection and preservation. New Bern’s location at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers makes it home to numerous wildlife habitats, which were disrupted during the storm. The planning phase will address ecosystem vulnerability as well.
Development of the flood resiliency plan is estimated to cost about $90,000. Swiss Bear and the City will work together to publish a Request for Proposals in the coming weeks to engage a consulting firm to develop the plan. After the planning phase, the city will move forward with funding an implementation phase.