Cooper sends letter to Trump administration over Matthew aid

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has written the Trump administration and congressional leaders to express disappointment over the failure to meet the state’s request for $900 million in Hurricane Matthew recovery funds.

A statement from the Democratic governor’s office Wednesday said Cooper worked with North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Reps. David Price and David Rouzer on compiling a request to Congress. This week, state officials learned that of the $900 million requested, the state will receive $6.1 million.

Cooper wrote that more than 82,000 households have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help. He said families displaced by the storm are still staying in hotels because of a lack of rental and low-income housing.

Cooper also invited President Trump to North Carolina to see storm damage firsthand.

A number of politicians in eastern North Carolina also gave statements on the Matthew funding request:

State Rep. John Bell:

While we are thankful for all outside assistance with North Carolina’s hurricane recovery effort, we are extremely disappointed that the $6.1 million in approved federal aid fell well short of our $900 million request.

 Hurricane Matthew devastated nearly 100,000 homes in rural North Carolina and left a $1.5 billion financial burden in its wake.

 A majority of the communities affected, many located in my district, lack the resources to re-build their communities themselves, leaving thousands of North Carolinians unable to return to their normal, everyday lives.

 Nonetheless, we will continue moving forward as a state and seek cooperation and leadership from the North Carolina Congressional delegation in finding alternative funding solutions.

Sen. Thom Tillis:

Last year, Senator Tillis worked closely with the North Carolina delegation to secure more than $330 million in federal funds to assist North Carolina in the Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts, funds that will be used to help rebuild homes, roads, and infrastructure.

This year, Senator Tillis has worked in coordination with Governor Cooper and the North Carolina delegation to secure more federal funding, and he will continue to work with the delegation and federal agencies to assist with long-term recovery efforts.

State Sen. Bill Cook:

Securing funds are vital in helping our communities move forward from Hurricane Matthew’s devastating impacts. During the December 2016 special session of the N.C. General Assembly, we passed a $200 million disaster relief package into law. In fact, included the Senate’s proposed budget released yesterday, we provide an additional $150 million in disaster relief assistance to victims of Hurricane Matthew. As we move forward, we will continue to work with our federal partners – it is important that we have resources available to help heal the hundreds of families and businesses that were impacted.

State Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram:

I am in agreement with Governor Roy Cooper’s sentiments. The Trump Administration and Congress’ measly funding for federal disaster for Hurricane Matthew were extremely disappointing. It’s less than 1 percent of what the state requested.

Governor Cooper requested more than $900 million in federal relief which is quite a conservative request in comparison to the damage done by Hurricane Matthew. Only $6.1 million in federal money was approved. This isn’t even enough to bring affected areas back to “prior fund damage” levels.

What I’d hoped for was exactly what our Governor requested for federal funding for:

▪ Housing repairs: $166 million for homeowners’ repairs, $63.7 million to repair rental housing, $15.2 million to repair public housing.

▪ Agriculture: $92.6 million to cover losses the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn’t cover, such as livestock, equipment and feed.

▪ Small business: $39 million to help close to 700 small businesses.

The above areas had the most impact in my District.

I call upon my Senate leaders to come up with additional funding, either through an immediate supplemental spending bill or in the next appropriations process to provide the much needed investment in recovery.

Being that North Carolina was underfunded at the federal level, it is unacceptable and shameful that the Senate budget fails North Carolinians affected by the storm. Hurricane Matthew was a catastrophic event that is best responded to outside of our biennium budget process. The appropriations should have never been included with the limitations of a $22.9 billion spending cap. We can do better than this. We are better than this. This budget does not reflect it!