LREMC getting $2.6M for Florence damage

By: T.C. Hunter - Managing editor
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LUMBERTON — Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation has been approved to receive $2.65 million in reimbursements for damage caused by Hurricane Florence.

High winds, rain and flooding caused by the hurricane that struck in September damaged poles, lines and transformers in LREMC’s service area, which covers Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson and Scotland counties, according to a FEMA news release. All five of those counties were included in the presidential disaster declaration issued after Hurricane Florence struck.

It was welcome news to Walter White, a vice president at LREMC.

“I’m grateful for our membership that we are able to receive this reimbursement,” White said. “It helps keep our corporation whole.”

It is not known when the money will be received, he said.

More than half of it, $1.4 million, will cover the cost of repairs made in Robeson County.

“The largest impact Florence had in our service area, obviously, was in Robeson County,” White said.

The reimbursement process involves FEMA sending the money to North Carolina Emergency Management, said John Mills, a spokesman for the FEMA office in Durham. The state must then conduct its final review of LREMC’s application, and that could take 30 to 60 days. The review must take place before the money is released.

“LREMC must show documentation proving the work for which it is seeking reimbursement was performed,” said Keith Acree, a spokesman for N.C. Emergency Management.

The reimbursement money is being made possible by FEMA’s Public Assistance program, according to information from the federal agency. The program provides grants for state and local governments and certain private nonprofits to reimburse the cost of debris removal, emergency protective measures and permanent repair work.

It is a cost-sharing program whereby FEMA reimburses applicants at least 75 percent of eligible costs, and the remaining 25 percent is covered by the state, according to FEMA. In the case of LREMC, FEMA’s share is nearly $2 million and the state’s share is more than $650,000.

Robeson was one of the North Carolina counties hit hard by Florence. The storm dumped as many as 22 inches of rain on some areas of the county and other areas received as much as 16 inches. The rainfall and water flowing from up north caused the Lumber River to crest at about 25 feet, well above the flood stage of 13 feet. Many areas of Lumberton and the county were covered by floodwaters.

The storm forced more than 1,000 residents to seek refuge in shelters set up around the county. Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged by Florence, many of which were also victims of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

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T.C. Hunter

Managing editor

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1975 or via email at [email protected]

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1975 or via email at [email protected]