WASHINGTON — About $375 million for victims of Hurricane Matthew is included in a $81 billion aid package approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Emergency Disaster Aid Package cleared the House on Thursday on a 251-169 vote, according to information from Rep. Robert Pittenger. The package was a response to the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
The aid package now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Early indications are the senators will not take up the legislation until sometime in January.
Pittenger, a Charlotte Republican, represents the 9th District in the U.S. House, which includes all of Robeson County. He and the entire North Carolina congressional delegation sent a letter to leaders of the House asking that areas still recovering from Hurricane Matthew not be forgotten as the aid package was crafted.
“Most folks don’t realize Lumberton, Fayetteville, Elizabethtown, and other southeastern North Carolina communities are still rebuilding following Hurricane Matthew,” Pittenger said. “Knowing the House would vote this year to help Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, I made sure House leadership was aware of the unmet needs in North Carolina. Thank you to Speaker (Paul) Ryan and House Appropriations Chairman (Rodney) Frelinghuysen for responding to our request.”
The new funding will be distributed through Community Development Block Grants, according to information from Pittenger’s office. The grants will focus on buying out homes in flood zones, elevating homes above flood level, and other projects to mitigate future disasters. North Carolina and other states will be responsible for working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to apply for the new funding.
Robeson, Cumberland, and Bladen counties were among the North Carolina counties hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew when it struck in October 2016. Nearly 98,000 homes and 19,500 businesses in North Carolina were damaged by Hurricane Matthew. Federal funding formulas typically are weighted in favor of regions most affected by natural disasters.