County gets $2M in LEAF funds

By: By Scott Bigelow - Staff writer

ROCKY MOUNT Robeson County has received nearly $2 million in disaster relief funds from the Golden LEAF Foundation for projects in St. Pauls and Lumberton and for Southeastern Health.

The Golden LEAF board of directors on Wednesday allocated the remaining $14.3 million in disaster recovery funding from the $55 million received from the North Carolina General Assembly for recovery efforts in Eastern North Carolina, which was hit by Hurricane Matthew.

It was the third and final round of grants from Golden LEAF related to Matthew. In all, the foundation supported 74 projects for community needs, including the repair or replacement of public buildings, equipment and infrastructure as well as infrastructure to serve new housing developments and funding to support small business recovery.

In this round, the city of Lumberton received $1.25 million to fund a portion of a project to install floodgates in the Jacob Swamp Dike at the opening at the CSX railroad tracks, St. Pauls received $350,000 for stormwater improvements at Johnson and Elizabeth streets and Southeastern Health received $354,000 to install a well to deliver potable water.

When Lumberton’s water plant failed because of flooding, the hospital trucked in water daily.

Bo Biggs, a Lumberton businessman, serves on Golden LEAF’s 15-member board..

“I am pleased with the way the funds were distributed,” Biggs said. “It was fair that Robeson County received the largest amount, because it was hardest hit by the hurricane.”

Previous grants to Robeson County entities included $2.7 million to the Public Schools of Robeson County, $754,303 to the city of Lumberton, $405,395 to Pine Terrace Volunteer Fire Department, $310,000 to the town of Pembroke and $55,000 to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Hurricane Matthew swept through rural Eastern North Carolina on Oct. 8, 2016, causing unprecedented flooding and resulting in one of the state’s costliest natural disasters.

The General Assembly responded with two pieces of legislation to support disaster recovery that included a total of $55 million appropriated to the Golden LEAF Foundation, which was asked to process applications and distribute disaster relief funding to qualified grantees quickly and efficiently without duplicating the efforts of other funding resources.

On his Facebook page, state Sen. Danny Britt said he is “pleased that these much-needed dollars made their way to Robeson County.”

Within months of receiving state funds, the foundation hired staff, conducted outreach meetings with local officials through partnerships with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and North Carolina League of Municipalities, developed and distributed grant application forms, coordinated with various state agencies in Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration, and visited project sites across Eastern North Carolina.

The service was provided without charging administrative costs. The first grants were made in April 2017.

“Many affected communities faced overwhelming costs associated with rebuilding critical infrastructure that provides services to local governments, schools and public safety services — all at once,” said Dan Gerlach, president of the Golden LEAF Foundation. “Our state leaders’ direction was clear: Get these funds committed rapidly and responsibly to help communities recover as quickly as possible.”

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding received from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers.

By Scott Bigelow

Staff writer

Staff writer Scott Bigelow may be contacted by email at or by phone at 910-644-4497.

Staff writer Scott Bigelow may be contacted by email at or by phone at 910-644-4497.