Federal shutdown slowing hurricane recovery in NC

Posted January 7, 2019 7:44 p.m. EST

— Three weeks into the partial federal government shutdown, the biggest impact on North Carolina so far is a slowdown in recovery efforts following Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael, according to Gov. Roy Cooper's administration.

Delays in the Federal Register mean North Carolina will have to wait longer for additional Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds promised for hurricane recovery, officials said. The state can continue drawing on existing CDBG-DR funds for which the Federal Register has already published, as long as each draw is under $5 million.

The shutdown also is delaying Department of Housing and Urban Development environmental reviews required to begin infrastructure projects. Although technical assistance for recovery projects continues, guidance from the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies is delayed, and access to HUD experts is reduced.

Federal Emergency Management Agency recovery operations in North Carolina remain mostly unaffected, and the state Division of Emergency Management can support salaries and operations of federally funded positions through existing grants, receipts and appropriations, officials said.

Other state impacts from the shutdown are as follows:

Department of Health and Human Services – Money for federal food assistance programs will likely run out in February if the shutdown continues.

Department of Environmental Quality – The Division of Air Quality, the Division of Waste Management and the Division of Water Resources have sufficient cash balances in existing grants to continue supporting federally funded positions for one to three months. Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is not currently testing water samples collected by DEQ.

Department of Information Technology – Has 60 days of cash on hand for other state agencies that use federal funds to support IT. Also has money to cover managed care funds through DHHS for the Health Care Information Project, but the scope of the project might have to be reduced if the shutdown drags on. No impact is expected on e-rate funding, which reimburses agencies and schools for connectivity. Also, the FirstNet Grant is winding down, and a balance remains that can be drawn on for current operations.

Department of Natural and Cultural Resources – Minimal short-term impact, but the federal Historic Preservation Fund supports the State Historic Preservation Office and Office of State Archaeology. The agencies are drawing from fiscal 2018 funds in the program, but anyone hired after Oct. 1 could be affected.

Department of Public Safety – Public safety grants distributed by the Governor’s Crime Commission will be affected.