RALEIGH, N.C. -- The acquisition of more than 1,000 Hurricane Floyd damaged structures at a cost of nearly $67 million has been approved by federal and state officials in the seven months since the storm struck North Carolina, federal and state disaster recovery officials said today.
Federal Coordinating Officer Carlos Mitchell of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said, "Altogether, the buyout of 1,065 homes have been approved at a cost of $66.7 million."
"This is an outstanding program and shows the commitment among local, state and federal government officials to speed recovery in the hard hit disaster areas of North Carolina," he added.
State Coordinating Officer Eric Tolbert of the N.C. Emergency Management Division said, "We are working faster than ever to process these reqests for acquisition. It is a real tribute to all levels of government that so much has been accomplished in such a short time.
"Never again will these sites be the scenes of such devastation, loss and personal tragedy as we witnessed when Hurricane Floyd flooded them out. These sites will become permanent green space," he said.
The home buyouts were approved under the FEMA/ State of North Carolina Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). So far, more then $66.7 million in buyouts have been approved, with 75 percent ($50.1 million) being paid by FEMA and state funds covering the other 25 percent ($16.7). The state is currently reviewing additional projects valued at $128.8 million, with another $83.5 million in buyout project having been submitted to FEMA for approval.
"We want everyone who is eligible and interested in the buyout program to contact their county manager's office right away so the county can meet the April 21 deadline," Tolbert said.
The grants include funds for the purchase of the properties and demolition of the structures. Once completed, the sites will be returned to a natural state, never again to be used for development.
The acquisitions should eliminate future structural and content damages at vulnerable sites in the disaster area. They also end future outlays from insurance claims and disaster assistance. Structures in the buyout areas have suffered repeated damage, and flood studies indicate a high potential for future flooding.
Acquisition of disaster damaged structures is in keeping with FEMA's Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities, Mitchell said. "Project Impact is an initiative to challenge the country to undertake actions that protect families, businesses and communities by reducing the effects of natural disasters through local public and private sector partnerships," he added
Project Impact communities in North Carolina are: city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, city of Wilmington and New Hanover County, town of Boone, Buncombe County and all incorporated municipalities, Lenoir County and all incorporated municipalities and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Communities in the acquisition projects are members in good standing with the National Flood Insurance Program without which such buyouts would not be possible. This coordinated effort furthers the multi-jurisdictional goal of protecting property and saving lives by reducing residents' exposure to periodic floodwaters.
Below are the communities with approved acquisitions projects and information about the local programs: