CAROLINA BEACH — The Golden LEAF Foundation notified Carolina Beach officials this morning that it will award a $2.1 million grant to make repairs to the public marina, which the town has said was heavily damaged by Hurricane Florence nearly two years ago.
The grant comes after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied the town’s application earlier this year for funds to repair the marina. Although the town is appealing the agency’s findings that the damages were age-related and not directly tied to Florence; the Golden LEAF grant funds ensure that no money will come from taxpayers’ pockets, according to Town Manager Bruce Oakley.
“If we do win the appeal with FEMA, the money that we would get from FEMA would go back to Golden Leaf,” Oakley said. “Golden Leaf’s money will make up any difference from what FEMA doesn’t fund.”
Oakley said the majority of the damages from Florence occurred to the marina’s bulkhead, a retaining wall that stabilizes the marina and also serves as boat docks. The hurricane also lifted the walkway where the charter boats are docked, according to Oakley.
“The bulkhead is key to having a marina. It keeps it in place, and the hurricane really undermined the stability of the bulkhead. It damaged it enough to where it needs to be significantly repaired,” he said.
“The Town of Carolina Beach is grateful to the Golden LEAF Foundation staff for their assistance in the application process and to the Board of Directors for the award,” according to a Friday morning press release. “We look forward to working with them to make this a successful project.”
Golden Leaf President and CEO Scott Hamilton said his organization was proud to help communities like Carolina Beach recover from major storms through its disaster recovery program.
“This project will help restore critical infrastructure used by local businesses,” Hamilton said.
Oakley said the town had hired an engineer to perform preliminary design work, and as it moves forward with the Golden LEAF grant it will put up the project to bids from private marine contractors.
The Golden LEAF Disaster Recovery Grant Program is funded through appropriations by the state to provide grants to eligible towns and other entities to repair or replace damaged or destroyed infrastructure and equipment, along with other infrastructure needed to support hazard mitigation resulting from Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, Michael, and Dorian. The grant awarded to Carolina Beach is one of 13 disaster recovery and resiliency projects funded by the foundation in August, according to the town.
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