More counties could be added to disaster declaration

Posted October 11, 2016

— Some North Carolina counties that experienced flooding from Hurricane Matthew were not a part of the original federal disaster declaration issued Monday, despite bordering counties that were included.

"I'm not sure what we didn't make the first list," said state Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson. "I've been assured we'll make the second wave."

Sampson County borders Cumberland, Johnston and Wayne counties, which were part of the declaration, and has seen the same kind of flooded roads and damaged houses, Jackson said. He added that most buildings in the county are without power.

"There are definitely going to be major crop losses throughout eastern North Carolina," he said.

In his official request to the federal government over the weekend, Gov. Pat McCrory asked President Barack Obama to include 66 counties in the declaration, but only 31 made the first cut.

Federal officials say that more counties will be added to the disaster declaration as more information about the storm's impact is gathered.

"The remainder of the governor's request is in process," said Mary Houdeck, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We will be adding additional counties each day as we get the information we need."

Houdeck said that FEMA had teams on the ground assessing the impact of the storm. They are collecting information about damage to public infrastructure like bridges, roads and schools, as well as individuals affected by the storm.

"We understand the needs of the folks there in North Carolina," she said. "We see the impact of the damage, and we're working very quickly to get everyone the assistance they need."

Disaster declarations make local governments eligible for federal aid with storm cleanup and make residents and businesses of those areas eligible for aid.

Harnett and Wilson counties also were left out of the initial disaster declaration.

"Today, I reached out to Governor Pat McCrory, NC Emergency Operations, and Federal Officials to request that Harnett County be included as a disaster area in the FEMA declaration of disaster areas," Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, said in a newsletter to constituents. "This declaration will help in individual and county assistance needs in the coming days and weeks."

State and federal officials say the original federal declaration was based on data available through Sunday.

"The President made expedited disaster declarations for 31 counties to get approval out the door as soon as possible," said Daniel Keylin, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. "Senator Tillis will continue to push federal officials to approve more counties for disaster assistance, and we expect additional counties to be added as more damage assessments are made. It's important for North Carolinians to know that, even if they live in a county that has not yet received a disaster declaration, they should still apply for FEMA disaster assistance if they sustained property damage from Hurricane Matthew."


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