An additional federal disaster declaration has officially added Sampson County to the list of counties to receive federal relief in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
Governor Pat McCrory issued a press release Wednesday evening, stating that Sampson, Harnett and Greene counties were added to the previous 31 counties placed on the list earlier in the week. A list released earlier this week omitted Sampson, but after the urging of county residents and local officials, the county has now been added.
“I appreciate the federal government answering my call for further assistance for counties impacted by Hurricane Matthew,” said Gov. Pat McCrory in a statement. “As we move into the recovery phase, this assistance will help those who are suffering to begin to rebuild their lives.”
According to Sen. Brent Jackson, an Autryville resident, Sampson County was included on McCrory’s initial disaster list but was not on the list compiled by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“We have been told it will be added later this week,” the senator was quoted as saying in a Wednesday Sampson Independent article.
Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said Tuesday that he had been in contact with McCrory’s office, as was Jackson.
The sheriff confirmed too that Sampson would be added to the declaration to receive aid.
On Thursday Thornton said he wanted to stress that in both talks with McCrory and a liaison with the governor’s office earlier this week that Sampson was being added even before the phone calls.
“When I initially called, I wasn’t able to get the governor, which is understandable considering all he is trying to deal with right now, but I was able to talk with Steve Keen, the governor’s liaison for Eastern North Carolina. Steve told me that getting Sampson on the list was already being worked on.”
Thornton said McCrory affirmed that fact when he talked with the sheriff about 15 minutes later. “We were never overlooked. I sure don’t want anyone in this county to think we weren’t considered to be important or that our damage wasn’t serious. No one thought that, and as soon as they were made aware our name was not on the list, work began to get us on there,” the sheriff stressed.
With the addition of Sampson, 34 counties are now approved for federal funding to help augment the costs of responding to the storm; the declaration also helps to pay for storm debris removal. Counties previously approved in the declaration include: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Lenoir, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson counties.
Following the declaration that was released earlier this week, Sen. Brent Jackson said that Sampson was included on McCrory’s disaster list but not on the list compiled by Federal Emergency Management Agency. Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said Tuesday that he had been in contact with the governor’s office, and confirmed that Sampson would be added to the declaration to receive aid.
According to the press release, homeowners and renters in Greene, Harnett and Sampson counties are also now able to apply for federal assistance to repair or rebuild damaged homes.
In addition, all 100 counties of the state will be eligible for funding to help mitigate future storm damage.
Local and state emergency management officials are still conducting preliminary damage assessments in other storm-impacted counties in order to gather the necessary documentation to apply for additional federal assistance to help families and communities recover from the storm. Meanwhile, rescue crews continue to search for survivors, and utility crews work to restore power, clear debris and open roadways.