Politics & Government

Feds reject McCrory’s request for flood relief money

Carol Dillon, left, owner of Outer Banks Motel in Buxton on North Carolina's Hatteras Island, wades out into the flooded parking lot at her hotel as workers try to clear drain pipes during high tide on Sunday, October 4, 2015.
Carol Dillon, left, owner of Outer Banks Motel in Buxton on North Carolina's Hatteras Island, wades out into the flooded parking lot at her hotel as workers try to clear drain pipes during high tide on Sunday, October 4, 2015. The Virginian-Pilot

Federal officials have denied Gov. Pat McCrory’s request for disaster relief money to help eight coastal counties impacted by flooding last month.

McCrory announced Tuesday that he’ll appeal the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision, arguing that an estimated $31 million in storm damage should meet aid requirements because the state’s threshold is set at $13.4 million.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told North Carolina leaders in a letter that the storm damages didn’t merit federal assistance because they weren’t “beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments.”

Days of heavy rain along the coast between Sept. 25 and Oct. 5 caused flooding from the South Carolina border to the Outer Banks. The town of Calabash in Brunswick County reported more than 22 inches of rain, and Morehead City had more than 19 inches.

Parts of South Carolina from Myrtle Beach to Columbia were hit harder in the floods, and 24 of the state’s 46 counties are receiving assistance from FEMA.

“We will appeal this denial and I implore Administrator Fugate and his staff to re-examine the damage estimates that were submitted,” McCrory said in a statement Tuesday. “Based on FEMA guidelines, we believe the damage estimates submitted are indeed eligible for federal financial assistance.”

The appeal will also go before Fugate, who rejected a similar appeal in September from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who twice sought a disaster declaration for summer floods in the Tampa Bay area.

The McCrory administration’s $31 million estimate includes damage to beaches, roads and infrastructure, as well as debris removal and emergency protection efforts.

Homes were filled with flood water in some Brunswick County towns and residents were ordered to evacuate. Leaders in North Topsail Beach reported “significant dune loss” and damage to more than 100 beach access walkways. And waves washed sand and debris across parts of N.C. 12 on the Outer Banks.

McCrory had more success in getting federal help for farmers facing crop damage from the storms. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack approved an agricultural disaster declaration last month that will provide emergency loans to affected farmers.

Farmers in hard-hit counties like Bladen said they expected 75 percent to 80 percent financial losses from crop damages.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

Eight counties seeking aid

Brunswick, Carteret, Dare, Hyde, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender

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