RALEIGH — Lenoir County will receive more than $7.9 million in federal and state funds to buyout 83 homeowners flooded by Hurricane Matthew, North Carolina Emergency Management announced.

“This funding will help 83 families relocate to homes outside the floodplain, and will create public open space where their flooded homes were,” said state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.

The announcement of $7,925,908 for 83 Lenoir County residential properties brings the total amount of Hazard Mitigation Grants awarded in North Carolina for Hurricane Matthew to $79.7 million for 641 properties.

Now that these projects are FEMA approved and funded, the state can enter into the required grant agreements with the receiving counties and towns and discuss program requirements. It is then up to Lenoir County to select contractors and begin the actual demolition work. The county will distribute the grant funds to the homeowner and will then be reimbursed by North Carolina Emergency Management.

In total, state emergency management officials anticipate approximately $115 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) grants will be awarded in North Carolina to help Matthew survivors get into more flood-resistant homes.

The federal program uses a combination of federal and state funds to elevate, reconstruct or buyout qualified homeowners whose home is at risk of repeated damage from flooding. Following major disasters, a percentage of total federal recovery funds is designated to develop more resilient communities using one of the approved methods through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. In February of 2014, North Carolina earned the status of an Enhanced Hazard Mitigation state based on its thorough plan and program history, meaning North Carolina receives an additional 5 percent in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding, which translated into an additional $25 million to help 210 more homeowners following Hurricane Matthew. FEMA renewed the Enhanced Status in March of this year.

This program has proven its value repeatedly, helping protect homeowners from additional disasters. More than 4,000 North Carolina homeowners and properties have benefited from mitigation measures during the past 20 years.

In the months after Hurricane Matthew, new and improved technical processes enabled North Carolina Emergency Management staff to evaluate more than 3,000 applications from homeowners for HMGP funding 10 times the typical number as compared to similar disasters. As a comparison, it took staff 18 months to evaluate 300 applications after Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Following the evaluation, NCEM staff then submitted applications to FEMA to either acquire, elevate or reconstruct nearly 800 different properties damaged by Hurricane Matthew. NCEM supported local governments by writing each grant application on their behalf.

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