Lawmakers seek more flood aid
By LINDELL JOHN KAY
Friday, June 2, 2017
Federal and state lawmakers gathered Thursday in Rocky Mount on the first day of the new hurricane season to ask their fellow legislators not to forget last year's storm victims.
N.C. Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram, D-Northampton, said residents across Eastern North Carolina continue to struggle following last year’s devastating tropical storms and Hurricane Matthew in October. She said she is joining other federal and state leaders in calling on the federal government to reconsider the real, unmet needs of families who are still impacted by Matthew.
The new storm season officially began Thursday and runs through Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts 11 to 17 named tropical storms will develop that could affect the East Coast of the United States.
Smith-Ingram said the need for federal and state relief remains urgent.
“The current appropriation of funds is not enough to cover the needs of our citizens who desperately need state support,” Smith-Ingram said. “Relief efforts have not been sufficient to date, and it is time we stepped up on behalf of those citizens to ensure proper protection.”
Princeville Town Manager Daniel Gerald was on hand to thank Smith-Ingram and the others for their work to help fund relief efforts. Princeville was one of the hardest-hit areas by the October hurricane and flooding that followed.
Gov. Roy Cooper asked the federal government for $900 million in recovery funds and received $6 million, less than 1 percent, U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-1st District, told a small crowd of reporters at Battle Park overlooking the recently flooded Tar River.
“Republican members of Congress need to get on board,” Butterfield said. “You can't do anything without the Republicans. They hold the purse strings.”
N.C. Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash, said some funds had trickled in for relief, but it's really just a drop in the bucket compared to what people need.
There are still people who don't have a home because of the storms, Bryant said.
“We're here to let people know we know and care about them,” Bryant said. “We are being aggressive on this. We're not going to sit back and wait.”
Bryant said details will be forthcoming about a planned community round table to help inform residents about the complicated ins and outs of relief funding.
The Battle Park press conference was held by the N.C. Senate Democratic Caucus.