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State rolls out Homeowner Recovery Program for Matthew, Florence

This September will mark two and four years, respectively, since Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew, left trails of devastation across eastern North Carolina. While these events might seem a distant memory for some, there are homeowners throughout the state who are still dealing with damages from those storms.

This week, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced the rollout of a new Homeowner Recovery Program through ReBuild NC. The program is part of an effort to distribute approximately $542 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to the state’s hardest hit communities.

Lisa Williams, who serves as the disaster recovery coordinator with the Mid-East Commission, clarified that the program is only available for properties that were damaged in hurricanes Florence or Matthew. The property owner had to be living at the property at the time the storm hit, and they must still own the property. In addition, the property owner must be able to document that they had damage from the storms.

“If it’s photographs of the house and a letter from the homeowner, that’s fine, but it has to be from Florence or Matthew,” Williams said. “For Beaufort County, that’s going to mean there are probably very few homes that are going to meet the criteria of this program, because Beaufort County was spared a lot of the damages from Florence and Matthew.”

Still, Williams encourages local residents whose homes were damaged during those storms to apply for the program at www.rebuild.nc.gov. Beyond that program, she says there are several other programs out there that homeowners might qualify for if they don’t meet the criteria for the Homeowner Recovery Program.

“Even though this program might not be a fit, there are many other programs that are both storm-related, and there are also a lot of programs that have spun off from that are more based on low-or-middle income households, primarily in flood zones,” Williams said.

For Williams, who coordinates recovery programs for Pitt, Bertie, Hertford, Martin and Beaufort counties, the biggest challenge sometimes is finding the people who need help, especially if they don’t have flood insurance.

“If you are in a flood zone or live in a place that typically floods, call me,” Williams said. “Call me and talk to me and let me make sure I have your information. If you do not have flood insurance, you are not on my radar. As these programs come down, I have to do outreach every time to try and find the homeowners and properties that meet the criteria for whatever grant money could potentially be awarded.”

Homeowners seeking more information on disaster recovery grant funding to repair or mitigate their property can reach Williams at 252-974-1843 or by email at lwilliams@mideastcom.org.