Local News

State Lawmakers Take Floyd Fund-Raising Trip to DC

Posted October 26, 1999

— Governor Hunt and other state leaders headed to Washington Wednesday looking for more money to help the state recover fromHurricane Floyd.

Three buses filled with lawmakers left from Rocky Mount before dawn on what they call an unprecedented trip.

Every member of theNorth Carolina General Assemblywas invited on the bus trip to the nation's capitol, and many of them climbed on board.

"These people who are affected in North Carolina don't need loans, they need money, and they need it now," said State Senator Sen. Patrick Ballantine. "We're going to help them."

The governor and 68 legislators representing the East, West, and all points in between, met with members ofCongress, FEMA Director James Lee Witt and North Carolina Senators Jesse Helms and John Edwards.

They are lobbying for $1.9 billion in aid for North Carolina flood victims.

The disaster relief effort has turned former foes into political allies.

"I, and the folks in my office, the folks I work for, have spent more time on this than any other one thing since I've been in Washington,' says Helms of the flood relief funding.

But everyone in attendance already knows how serious the need is in North Carolina. Hunt may be preaching to the choir, but he hopes his message is heard throughout the capital.

"This is the way you do these types of things. You come up here and you bring people that would get attention, and you talk about what the problems are and what the need is," says Hunt.

Members of the N.C. congressional delegation urged state lawmakers to lobby as many people they can in Washington.

Last week, Helms set up a meeting with Hunt and Senator Stevens who heads up the appropriations committee.

Before boarding the bus bound for Washington, the leader of North Carolina's Congressional Black Caucus shared a message he planned to deliver to his counterparts on the national level.

"Our citizens need not to go through the experiences of the bureaucratic quagmire that FEMA and other agencies have in place," Rep. Thomas Wright said.

Lawmakers say a successful trip means receiving millions of dollars in aid.

"We have a great deal of pressure back in our districts, and they need to feel that pressure in Washington," said Sen. Luther Jordan.

The lawmakers had lunch with the members of the delegation, then met with other members of Congress before returning to Rocky Mount Wednesday night.

Wednesday's trip was the fifth for the Hunt since Hurricane Floyd. He wants to make sure the budget Congress is currently working on includes money for flood victims.

Helms and Edwards say they are confident it will.

andStephanie HawcoandKeith BakerandMichelle Singer


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