Hurricane Florence Damage Estimated at $17 Billion; 34 Counties Declared Disaster Areas
Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs and Policy Manager
The NC Office of State Budget and Management released on Wednesday an updated damage estimate from Hurricane Florence, reflecting nearly $17 billion in damages across North Carolina. The Office updated its preliminary damage estimate of $13 billion after receiving new data from the NC Department of Insurance. Governor Roy Cooper’s office noted the damage caused by Hurricane Florence was significantly higher than previous storms in North Carolina; Hurricane Matthew caused $4.8 billion in damages, and Hurricane Floyd caused between $7 and $9.4 billion in damages, “meaning that Florence has caused more damage than Matthew and Floyd combined.” Hurricane Florence damage estimates are expected to continue to increase based on ongoing inspection data and insurance requests.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated Hurricane Florence as a major disaster for North Carolina on September 14, and has since declared 34 NC counties as designated disaster areas, including:
Anson, Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Chatham, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Durham, Greene, Guilford, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Union, Wayne, Wilson
The federal disaster declaration not only affects the ability of residents in disaster areas to register with FEMA for individual assistance, but also the ability of schools within those counties to become eligible for storm relief provisions recently approved by the General Assembly. In its first special session on Hurricane Florence recovery, legislators passed Senate Bill 2 to address school make-up days and personnel pay. Senate Bill 2 allows schools in federal disaster-declared areas to waive up to 20 missed instructional days, while schools in non-disaster areas must make up two days, unless they otherwise meet ongoing school calendar requirements without those make-ups, and may waive additional days missed.
In a following session on storm recovery, legislators passed Senate Bill 3 to provide schools in disaster areas with flexibility in calculating average daily membership (ADM), as well as to allocate $60 million in relief funds to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), to be distributed to schools in federal disaster declared counties for facility repair.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced today “that an additional $35 million has been awarded to school districts affected by Hurricane Florence, meaning all $60 million appropriated by the General Assembly on Oct. 15 as part of the Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Fund has been distributed to schools.” The first round of relief funding totaled $25 million, and was focused on assisting districts in reopening closed schools. The second round of funding, totaling $35 million, is intended to “again assist districts with reopening closed schools, as well as covering the costs already incurred to reopen schools, with a priority given to districts that have depleted or encumbered their local funds,” according to a statement from the State Superintendent. The exact amounts of relief funding provided by DPI to specific school districts can be accessed by clicking here.