Senator refutes Coopers “one percent” claim on Hurricane Matthew relief funds

Senators points to more than $1B already given to state for recovery, saying process is ongoing

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)speaks to delegates during the North Carolina Delegate Breakfast at the Marriott Cleveland East onJuly 20

RALEIGH — In an onslaught that included a letter to the president, social media posts and a press release, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper went on the offensive this week in accusing the federal government of depriving the state of funds that would assist in the ongoing Hurricane Matthew recovery.

Cooper complained in a release posted on his government site Wednesday of his “shock and disappointment” that the state was appropriated $6.1 million after he had requested more than $900 million “to help communities and families fix homes, repair businesses and recover from the historic flooding.”

Cooper’s funding request was in addition to the more than a billion dollars that N.C. had already received in Hurricane Matthew disaster assistance.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) rebutted Cooper’s assertion that N.C. had received “less than 1 percent of the resources needed” in an email to media on Wednesday.

Tillis’ said N.C. received more than $750 million as of April 4 from various federal agencies that did not require Congressional approval. Furthermore, Tillis said more than $334 million in recovery funds were approved by Congress in December.”

Last year, Sen. Tillis worked closely with the North Carolina delegation to secure more than $330 million in federal funds to assist North Carolina in the Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts, funds that will be used to help rebuild homes, roads and infrastructure,” Tillis’ office said in a statement. “This year, Sen. Tillis has worked in coordination with Gov. Cooper and the North Carolina delegation to secure more federal funding, and he will continue to work with the delegation and federal agencies to assist with long-term recovery efforts.”

In early April, Cooper asked for $929 million on top of the $334 million already previously approved by Congress, saying the state suffered $2.8 billion in damage and another $2 billion in economic loss from the storm that killed at least 28 people and flooded homes, farms, businesses and more.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Tenn.) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Cooper invited them tour North Carolina to see the remaining damage from the storm. His press release itemized the requests he said were unmet by the federal government, with $434 million of that money needed “for buyout, elevation and reconstruction of 3,962 properties that flooded during Matthew and are at risk for future flooding.”

Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), who worked with Tillis and Cooper in requesting funds from the federal government, told The Washington Post he was also disappointed in the latest funding estimates.

“Many programs included in the Governor’s request received no funding at all and the housing grants provided in the bill will meet only a small fraction of North Carolina’s need due to the formula used by HUD to allocate such funding,” Price said in a statement.

North Carolina’s senior senator, Sen. Richard Burr, said that Cooper’s letter and media campaign amounted to “partisan finger-pointing” as all members of the delegation, regardless of party, are working to secure funds needed to rebuild from the tragedy rather than using it for political capital.

“The bipartisan North Carolina congressional delegation worked to secure more than $300 million in federal assistance for Hurricane Matthew and is committed to making sure the people of North Carolina have the resources they need for hurricane recovery,” a statement from Burr’s office said. “Hurricane recovery has always been and should continue to be above partisan finger-pointing. Sen. Burr encourages both Democrat and Republican leaders to work together to ensure that those suffering as a result of a natural disaster get the support they need.”