State and FEMA approve $1.6 million grant to help flood victims in Robeson County

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Jul. 24—WASHINGTON — Robeson County has been awarded a $1,610,260 hazard mitigation project grant to improve disaster resilience.

The grant was approved by the State of North Carolina and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The money will be used to acquire and remove 10 residential properties that were damaged by flooding from Hurricane Florence in 2018 and are at high risk of repeat flooding from future storms, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

"As county manager, I saw firsthand the devastation these homeowners faced as a result of hurricanes in our area. So, this is undeniably a major step for some of these families to return to a state of normalcy," said Kellie Blue, Robeson County manager.

The structures are located within the Special Flood Hazard Area and the purchases will give the property owners the means to relocate their homes to areas with far less flooding risk, according to DPS. In addition to buying the properties, the grant pays for removal of the structures and their foundations. The land will be maintained in perpetuity as open space that conserves natural floodplain functions. Future development or use of the land will be deed restricted.

"This is good news for the homeowners and those communities who have experienced severe flooding and repetitive loss in both Florence and previous storms," said Steve McGugan, North Carolina's State Hazard Mitigation officer. "The next step is for the state and local governments to procure a contractor, which may take several months. Once a contractor is selected, the property owners will be advised of the project timeline to complete work under this grant."

Improving disaster resilience is crucial for the people of Robeson County, U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop said.

"Families in this area have experienced the devastating effects of hurricanes and severe flooding," the N.C. District 9 representative said. "This grant will help impacted families relocate to a safer location and bring back a sense of normalcy to their lives."

FEMA's share of the cost for this project is $1,207,695, with the state paying $402,565. FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant program normally reimburses 75% of eligible project costs and the remaining 25% is covered by the state. The federal share is reimbursed to the state, which disburses the funds to local governments.

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