Gov. Cooper reflects on efforts to rebuild following Hurricane Florence

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RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — Hurricane Florence will be etched in the memories of many residents across the Cape Fear for many years to come.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper says the storm which came ashore in September posed one of the biggest challenges the state has ever faced.

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“We’ve never seen a natural disaster like Florence, not only 42 lives lost, but almost $17 billion in damage,” he said.

The Governor says recovery from Hurricane Florence remains a top priority for his administration.

“At the end of the day, when you have talked to people who don’t know where they’re going because they don’t have a home, who have a small business and don’t know how they are going to start it back up, a farmer in the middle of a cotton field that is completely destroyed, that farmer is already leveraged to the hilt, a congregation and church members, and a pastor where water the water was at the roof of their church, you know that the human suffering is significant,” he said.

Cooper goes on to add the people who can afford a storm-related financial blow the least often get hit the most and that the state has a tremendous challenge ahead.
“There’s been almost $83 million distributed by state and federal government into New Hanover County and in surrounding counties, there is significant money, there’s over a billion dollars statewide that have been distributed to people,” he said.

The Governor says he has also requested more than $6 billion in federal assistance from Congress and $1.5 billion from the General Assembly.

He goes on to cite an encounter he had with a woman at a Wilmington shelter following the hurricane.

“She looked up at me and said ‘I thank God that I’m alive, I thank God for that brave Wilmington firefighter, I thank God for all the people in this shelter who are volunteering, some of their homes have been flooded, and you know what, I’m going to make it,’” he recalled.

Cooper said he is driven to work for people like her and to ensure she does make it through this difficult time. He goes on to say her spirit is typical of many North Carolinians he’s met in recent months since the storm.

“That is a reflection of the determination, the resiliency, the will of the people of this state.” Cooper said. “We have to recover from this. We’ve got a ways to go but we’re making progress and we’re going to continue. I’m going to work on it every single day.”

To see more positive stories about people who are rebounded since the storm, be sure to tune in for a special edition of WWAY News “Moving Forward From Florence,” Tuesday at 6 p.m. on WWAY CBS.