The federal government has agreed to pick up the tab for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs the city of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank, Perquimans and Camden counties incurred both responding and recovering from Hurricane Dorian last month.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday the Federal Emergency Management Agency had deemed a dozen more counties eligible for reimbursement of public expenses during the Category 1 storm that passed off the North Carolina coast Sept. 5-6.
“This approval means more towns and counties will be able to use federal funds to cover their storm response and cleanup costs so Dorian will not put their local budgets in a bind,” Cooper said in a statement released by his office.
Fourteen counties in North Carolina were included in President Trump’s initial major disaster declaration on Oct. 4. They included Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Hyde, Jones, New Hanover, Pamlico, Pender, Sampson, Tyrrell, and Washington.
Currituck has reported an estimated $900,000 so far in debris cleanup and repair costs. Those costs continue to increase as work is ongoing, according to county spokesman Randall Edwards.
The 12 counties added to the disaster declaration on Friday means FEMA Public Assistance funding is now available to local governments, state agencies and certain private nonprofits in Beaufort, Camden, Columbus, Greene, Hoke, Lenoir, Onslow, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson and Wayne counties.
The city of Elizabeth City expects to have about $500,000 in Dorian-related expenses. Damage to the roof on the city’s Public Safety Center is expected to cost $250,000 or more, according to City Manager Rich Olson.
Non-salary expenses from the city’s response to Dorian already have exceeded $100,000 and city officials expect the cost of salary, overtime and benefits associated with response to the storm to also top $100,000.
The city incurred extensive overtime costs not just from its own workers during Dorian but also from other municipalities such as Rocky Mount, Wilson and Wake Forest that sent electric crews to Elizabeth City to help out after the storm. Olson said those municipalities bill the city for their employees’ time.
Public Assistance is a cost-sharing program that reimburses eligible disaster-related debris removal, emergency protective measures and the repair or restoration of public facilities such as roads, bridges, water control facilities, buildings, equipment, public utilities, parks and recreational facilities.
A major expense in Pasquotank will be the grinding of storm-related debris. Pasquotank officials said they do not yet have a dollar figure for those costs, but the amount of storm debris has been estimated at 564 tons.
Pasquotank had about $3,200 in personnel costs related to operating an emergency shelter during Dorian and about $2,000 in overtime costs at the landfill.
The threshold for being eligible for the public assistance is $149,632 in Pasquotank and $36,726 in Camden.