Gov. Pat McCrory announced today that he will likely call for a special session to be held in the second week of December to address the needs from Hurricane Matthew. The announcement came after a meeting in Pitt County of his Hurricane Matthew Recovery Committee at which McCrory updated those in attendance on the latest recovery efforts related to the storm and plan for long-term recovery in the eastern part of the state that was hit hardest by Matthew.
McCrory was quoted in the announcement as saying, “This committee continues to work hard to ensure that everyone affected by this storm is heard from, especially in Pitt County, which was one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew.”
McCrory’s announcement made no mention of the needs related to the wildfires in the western part of the state, or recovery efforts going on in that region as possibly being addressed in the special session.
Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne) hints that the idea of a special session for appropriating funds related to the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew may have gone up in smoke.
In an appearance on the “What Matters in North Carolina” podcast on Tuesday November 29, Bell said that the devastation to thousands of acres of forest land in western North Carolina has sparked another situation that may require the state to spend money to help with the recovery efforts.
Bell said Tuesday, “I’ve had a number of conversations with our state budget director on this issue to make sure that we have the funds that we need to get us through the end of the year. And I would think that if we were just dealing with Hurricane Mathew, that the Governor would have already called a special session. But now we’re dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew here in eastern North Carolina, and now we’re dealing with the forest fires in western North Carolina, which has kind of complicated some issues.”
Bell added, “I don’t see how you do a special session for one and then have to come back to address another one when we can get all the damage assessments in place.” Bell said that there are still damage assessments coming in related to crop damage from Hurricane Matthew, businesses damaged by the storm and infrastructure damage.
Bell said, “We do have the funds in place to address those concerns. Now you complicate that issue with what we’re dealing with in the western part of the state with the fires. In my opinion, – this is just John Bell speaking, as a legislator and as a taxpayer – I would want the General Assembly to come in and take a comprehensive look at both natural disasters that we have and address then at one time, instead of trying to piecemeal it together.”
The good news is that is has finally rained some in western North Carolina. Bell said, “Hopefully the good Lord will bless us with some rain in the western part of the state. We’ve had enough here in the east, but hopefully we’ll get some in the western part of the state and these fires will be snuffed out.”
As far as helping the folks in eastern North Carolina now, McCrory’s announcement said the governor is encouraging individuals and groups to help in the relief efforts by making a financial or other contribution. Monetary contributions to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund for Hurricane Matthew can be made by texting NCRECOVERS to 30306 or by visiting NCDisasterRelief.org.