NCGA could reconvene for Florence costs

ONSLOW COUNTY — Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Onslow) said Saturday that Florence was one the worst storm he’s seen after living in Jacksonville all his life, reporting trees down and evidence of tornadoes after Hurricane Florence passed through Onslow County.

“I’ve got a tree on my house and I have a bay window that’s pouring water,” said Brown on Saturday, the morning after Florence made landfall.

While federal dollars to help N.C.’s recovery is in the works, Brown said he anticipates that the General Assembly could have to convene to make more money available for recovery efforts from Hurricane Florence.

“We’ve got about $2 billion in our state rainy day fund, and it’s a good thing because there is going to be help needed across eastern North Carolina after this storm,” said Brown.

“I know the governor has discretion to move some money around, but I would be surprised if it’s enough, and I feel certain we will have to call a special session to allocate some of those dollars that are in the rainy day fund,” he added.

Rebuilding the state’s rainy day fund has been a focus of the state legislature in recent years, bringing its total to $2 billion last year’s budget, more than the amount socked away by Virginia and South Carolina.

Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Burke) tweeted this week: “To put it in perspective, a $2 billion Rainy Day Fund (like maybe for #FlorenceNC) to the state of NC is like a family having one month of emergency funding set aside. One month.”

The rainy day build-up was criticized by some during the last few budget seasons, as some urged lawmakers to spend more on state employee salaries and other items. This week, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have rolled up their sleeves to help in their communities in any way they can. Gov. Roy Cooper and House Speaker Tim Moore served meals together briefly in the parking lot of the Temple Baptist Church in New Bern.

It’s pretty bad in Onslow and Jones counties,” said Brown in an interview just after Florence made landfall. “In Jacksonville some stayed some didn’t. Those of us who’ve live here all our lives, most of us probably stayed; but I’m not sure I’ll do that next time.”