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Floyd Victims May Come Up Short In Flood Relief

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RALEIGH — Half of the request. Realistically, that is about all North Carolina can expect to get from Congress for hurricane relief.

North Carolina has asked the federal government for almost $2 billion. But legislators learned on Wednesday, North Carolina may only get $1 billion.

Billy Ray Hall, North Carolina's point person watching the Floyd funds flow from Washington, thinks the state will get about half of what it is asking, leaving about $200 million of housing needs unmet.

"These are emergency needs," Hall said. "They are not long-term frill needs, but they are emergency needs in housing. People will not have housing as a result of the numbers we are now seeing."

About $250 million in farm losses also would not be covered, something that could make Hurricane Floyd even more catastrophic.

"If we don't get some relief for our agricultural community, we're going to see a lot of farmers [in a] mass exodus from agriculture this year," said Danny Shaw, extension officer director. "I already have talked with many that have done so."

Of course, not all of these hurricane victims needs will be unmet. Some of the shortfall will be made up by the state.

Legislators say they are disappointed though, that a lack of action by the President, and Congress will probably force them to make more people in North Carolina suffer.

"Obviously, we will be taking money more than likely out of existing programs," said Sen. Marc Basnight. "Obviously, it is going to affect what we fund in the future being educationally, environmentally, human resources, every department we got."

After Hurricane Andrew, Florida and Louisiana received $5 billion in aid in 36 days.

In addition, legislators have said there is no way that any shortfall in N.C. is going to be met by any tax increase.

Flood victims can still request state and federal aid by calling1 800-462-9029.The deadline has been extended to December 14.

The extension applies to home and business owners who suffered damages due to Floyd.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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