Hurricane Matthew checks to go out in May

Homes are seen underwater after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton in October 2016

RALEIGH — N.C. Department Emergency Management officials say they will start sending the first homeowner reimbursement checks to victims of 2016’s Hurricane Matthew next month.

In a briefing to lawmakers at the N.C. General Assembly on Monday, Mike Sprayberry, state emergency management director, briefed the House Committee on Emergency Management that $237 million provided through the ReBuild NC, made possible by North Carolina’s allocation of Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery, will be supplemented by $168 million in CDBG-DR funds announced earlier this week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“We’re continuing to push to get assistance to the families, businesses and communities working to recover while making sure taxpayer dollars are being used effectively,” said Sprayberry in a press release. “North Carolina is currently on target to begin sending the first homeowner reimbursement checks in May, and we’re glad to learn just this week that HUD has awarded North Carolina more of these funds.”

The money is available to help qualified low- and moderate-income residents impacted by the storm. The state partnered with local communities to open application centers where Matthew survivors can apply for these funds starting last November. Centers are still open in Cumberland, Edgecombe, Robeson and Wayne counties.

According to the N.C. Department of Emergency Management, applications for the funds go through a detailed process requiring multiple checks for eligibility, duplication of benefit, environmental reviews, and more.

“Our goal is rebuilding stronger and better so North Carolina will be more resilient in the face of future disasters,” Sprayberry said. “We’re working with federal, state and local leaders to cut through red tape and get help to those who need it most.”

In addition to recovery efforts, NCEM is working with communities in Lumberton, Fair Bluff, Windsor, Seven Springs, Princeville and Kinston to set strategies to prepare for future disasters. The agency also told lawmakers that they are working with experts at NC State University, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local governments to conduct flood mitigation studies of the Neuse, Tar, Lumber and Cashie river basins. Study results are expected later this spring.