County, city still waiting on millions in Florence reimbursement

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Hurricane Florence knocked a tree onto a van in downtown Wilmington on Sept. 15, 2018. (Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —  It has been six months since Hurricane Florence made landfall in our area, and New Hanover county is just one area that suffered extensive damage. There is still more work to be done, and millions of dollars that have not been reimbursed.

“As far as the cleanup and the debris, yes, we’ve got all that up, over $30 million that the city has spent, just in the city. And cleaning up that debris, we’ve only gotten back $300,000 from FEMA,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo in a sit down interview at the WWAY studio.

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Though the storm may be long gone, its effects are still being felt. The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County are still waiting to be reimbursed by FEMA.

“We’re in line to be reimbursed $9.5 million. We were one of the first local governments to be authorized for reimbursement,” said county manager Chris Coudriet.

Coudriet says the county will receive about half of the more than $20 million they spent on recovery. He says work to repair some government buildings, like the Alton Lennon Federal Courthouse, is still underway.

“The federal government to be consistent with reimbursement, wanted us to go through the process of soliciting for an architect and a general contractor to work together on the projects,” said Coudriet. “So we had to go through that, secured those commitments, and we’ll be back in the courthouse, I believe, probably by the first of June.”

Mayor Saffo says as the weather warms up, and tourism dollars start to roll in, the economy will begin to rebound.

“Our small business owners are the ones that have gotten impacted the worst in this storm, there’s no doubt about it. And everywhere I go, I tell people to shop local,” said Saffo.

On Monday, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will consider a recovery plan which is intended to set policy and strategy around housing recovery, infrastructure recovery, and economic and business recovery.