LUMBERTON — Robeson County officials are urging those who suffered property damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew to attend a public meeting Monday to learn about hazard mitigation grants now available to eligible applicants.
Dixon Ivey Jr., Robeson County’s director of Planning and Inspections, said there are three hazard mitigation grants being offered through the recovery section of North Carolina’s Division of Emergency Management. The three grants provide for property buyouts, increases in home elevations and home reconstruction.
“We need folks to show up for this meeting, even if they are not sure if they are eligible, ” Ivey said. “We want to make sure that everyone receives what they are eligible to get.”
Ivey said that Monday’s informational meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the conference room of the county’s Department of Social Services building, 120 Glen Cowan Road, in Lumberton. Representatives of the N.C. Division of Emergency Management and FEMA are expected to attend. No grant applications will be accepted at the meeting.
According to Ivey, at 8 a.m. Tuesday the county will begin taking applications for the grants at the old DSS building on N.C. 711 in Lumberton. Applications will be taken in the upstairs conference room from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day from Tuesday through Friday.
Red Springs and Lumberton residents can apply for the grants in their own communities, as well as in the county. The grants can be applied for in the two municipalities, as well as the county, because Lumberton and Red Springs administer their own zoning laws.
“If applications from property owners in those communities are filed in the county, they will be turned over to the municipalities for processing,” Ivey said.
There is $100 million allocated for these grants statewide, with an emphasis being placed on Robeson, Bladen, Columbus and Cumberland counties because those counties suffered the most destruction from flooding resulting from Hurricane Matthew. The grants will be awarded in a first-come, first-served basis.
In the buyout program, the property owner is offered the appraised value of the property before Hurricane Matthew. If the owner accepts the offer, the owner receives the money, the home is demolished, and the property reverts back to the county.
Ivey said the property must remain as green space, although in some cases it can be used for parks or other limited uses as approved by the state.
According to Ivey there are no eligibility limitations for the buyout. No more than $276,000 will be offered in a single grant, and that includes the cost of demolition.
The second grant provides for the elevation of homes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency standard of one foot above base flood elevation. To qualify for the grant, an individual must own and live in the house, Ivey said.
The maximum grant for elevation work is $175,000.
Ivey said the third grant allots money for home reconstruction. The damaged structure can be torn down and rebuilt, or repaired using the money.
There is a limit of $150,000, said Ivey, and the money can be used only to construct a structure the same square footage as the one that existed before the storm.
Ivey said he and a FEMA appraiser will visit the properties and check to see if they qualify for a grant. If found eligible, the application will then be processed.
“The quicker we get started, the sooner people will get their money,” he said.