Sunday, June 23, 2024

Local legislators sponsor disaster bill with earmarks for Southport, BSL, Stoney Creek

Pine Lake in Boiling Spring Lakes remains empty, and will likely remain empty for years as the city waits for federal assistance. (Port City Daily photo | Mark Darrough)
Pine Lake in Boiling Spring Lakes remains empty, and will likely remain empty for years as the city waits for federal assistance. (Port City Daily photo | Mark Darrough)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Rep. Charlie Miller, R-Brunswick-New Hanover, is a primary sponsor of House Bill 500, legislation that includes nearly $200 million in storm-related appropriations. Rep. Frank Iler, R-Brunswick, is a sponsor.

The bill would permanently establish the North Carolina Office of Resiliency and Recovery, an arm of the Department of Public Safety first launched in 2019. The department is currently only tasked with managing fund disbursements related to hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

As a permanent department, NCORR’s role would be to bolster local government’s technical assistance on resiliency-related recovery items. The department could place employees in key regions in order to fill current funding gaps related to storm resiliency and recovery.

The bill would create up to 13 new NCDORR positions for three years to support local governments, universities, private stakeholders, and communities to help plan for flooding and other natural disasters. It would use $10 million to create a flood-related, user-friendly database and provide grant funding in local communities to enhance resilience.

The department woud receive $20 million to build a statewide flood-resilience blueprint, presenting methodologies to reduce the impact of flooding in the Cape Fear River and the Neuse River basins. An additional $32.2 million would fund Neuse River basin flood-mitigation activities, including $10 million for Stoney Creek acquisitions.

For Lumber River flood damage, $36.5 million would get appropriated, including a $14 million earmark for the Boiling Spring Lakes dam project and $5 million for the City of Southport to address waterfront stabilization.

It would also provide at least $30 million for the Department of Environmental Quality for flood-mitigation projects, including studying chronic flooding in the Stoney Creek watershed. This appropriation would include up to $2 million in funding to the N.C. Coastal Federation for living shoreline projects.

“Coastal communities face a range of unique flooding hazards including storm surge, waves, and erosion — all of which can cause extensive damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure.” Rep. Miller said in a press release. “As a Southport native, I’ve seen countless storms decimate the area and can recognize the benefit of having a reserve in place for towns to actively utilize during their preparation and recovery process.”

New Hanover County can apply for financing through various funding avenues established in the bill.

The bill passed its first hearing in the House in April and was moved to the House Committee On Appropriations Tuesday. It will then move on to the House floor for a vote before reaching the Senate.

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