A full year and a half after Hurricane Matthew inflicted major damage in eastern North Carolina, hundreds of millions of relief dollars remain unspent.
Lawmakers dissatisfied with the pace of the state’s Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts took Gov. Roy Cooper’s emissaries to task Monday over news that the state hasn’t spent any of the $236.5 million approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to get hurricane victims back in their homes.
They found little satisfaction in the administration’s answers, and the frustration was bipartisan.
State Rep. Brenden Jones, R-Columbus, said it took him 83 days at one point to get response to a letter he wrote the Cooper’s director of emergency management. Rep. Garland Pierce , D-Scotland, said he feels like a liar when he repeats state time lines to constituents who want to know when they’ll be back in their homes….
Administration officials acknowledged frustrations, and that indeed the state has not yet spent any of the $236.5 million HUD has approved. That figure actually increased last week to more than $400 million, funding that awaits resolution of an eight-step process for 1,500 people in the pipeline.
An eight-step process? To get relief to people who lost their homes or businesses? Government bureaucracy at its finest.
This certainly isn’t the first time a Democrat governor’s administration has bumbled hurricane relief. I wrote in 2011 about how the Easley and Perdue administrations raided the disaster relief fund for more than $65 million in the three years prior to Hurricane Irene, leaving the fund virtually empty when Irene struck our coast.