Governor Cooper’s Failed Hurricane Response Left Tens Of Thousands Of North Carolinians Struggling

When North Carolina needed help in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence, devastated communities and displaced families found out that they couldn’t count on Governor Roy Cooper. As the 2016 and 2018 hurricanes left billions of dollars in destruction to homes and businesses and dozens of lives lost in their wake, Cooper sat on his hands, slow-rolled desperately needed relief funds, and misspent millions.

Editorial boards wrote that Cooper’s “inaction…suggests a lack of competence” and that Cooper and his administration were acting “childish and cowardly” and “should be ashamed of how they’re failing citizens.” In addition to failing to deliver relief aid, Governor Cooper refused to release information about the stalled recovery efforts to the press and the public – a signature tactic during the current COVID-19 crisis.

“When North Carolinians needed leadership the most, Roy Cooper abandoned citizens and communities suffering in the wake of deadly natural disasters and is still failing them to this day,” said RGA Communications Director Amelia Chassé Alcivar. “North Carolina voters deserve a governor who will have their back, take responsibility, and be there long after the photo-ops are over – not a politician like Roy Cooper who turns his back as soon as the cameras are off. North Carolina simply can’t count on Roy Cooper.”

Nearly Four Years After Hurricane Matthew Hit North Carolina, The Cooper Administration Has Failed To Fully Allocate Federal Recovery Funding To Devastated Communities

In June 2017, Governor Cooper Toured Fair Bluff, A Town Devastated By Hurricane Matthew, And Announced That Help Was “On The Way” Despite Nine Months With No Progress. “’It’s clear that Fair Bluff was devastated by Hurricane Matthew,’ Gov. Roy Cooper said…Nearly nine months has gone by but hardly any progress.” (Kirsten Gutierrez, “’Help Is On The Way’: Cooper Tours Matthew’s Lasting Impact In Fair Bluff,” WWAY, 6/29/20)

WBTV Headline: “NC Has Spent $0 Of $200 Million Grant To Rebuild Homes Damaged By Hurricane Matthew, Report Says” “A report released by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in late March shows North Carolina has yet to spend any of [a] $236 million grant intended to help fund recovery efforts from Hurricane Matthew. The state was awarded the community development block grant for disaster recovery, known as CDBG-DR, last fall.” (Nick Ochsner, “NC Has Spent $0 Of $200 Million Grant To Rebuild Homes Damaged By Hurricane Matthew, Report Says,” WBTV, 4/12/18)

Fayetteville Observer Headline: “Matthew Recovery: Two Years Later, Victims Still Await Money”

As Of June 2020, Nearly Four Years Later, The Cooper Administration Had Failed To Allocate All Of The Recovery Funding That The State Had Received From The Federal Government. “The state has committed $185.4 million of the $236.5 million Hurricane Matthew grant.” (Adam Wagner, “North Carolina Launches Long-Awaited Hurricane Florence Home Rebuilding Program,” The News & Observer, 6/15/20)

Governor Cooper’s Inaction Spurred A State Investigation And A Federal Review

A May 2019 Nonpartisan Legislative Report Found That The Cooper Administration Had Spent Just 1% Of Federal Recovery Funds. “The new PED report found that the state had spent just one percent, or $3.4 million, of its funds as of December 2018. By comparison, the report said, South Carolina, which received CDBG-DR funds at the same time as North Carolina, had spent 22 percent of its block grant money awarded for Hurricane Matthew.” (Nick Ochsner, “HUD Inspector General Reviewing NC Recovery Efforts As New Report Outlines Slow, Wasteful Spending,” WBTV, 5/20/19)

The Report Also Found That $3.7 Million Was Spent “Unnecessar[ily].” “The non-partisan Program Evaluation Division also found $3.7 million in unnecessary state spending.” (Amanda Morris, “Watchdog Report: North Carolina Hurricane Funds Delayed,” The Associated Press, 5/20/19)

A June 2019 Nonpartisan Report Fund That The Cooper Administration “Broke The Law” When Distributing Funds. “The North Carolina Department of Public Safety broke the law and didn’t follow legislative directives when distributing $9 million of state money after Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, according to a report Monday from the General Assembly’s government watchdog agency.” (Amanda Morris, “Report: North Carolina Hurricane Fund Distribution Broke Law,” The Associated Press, 6/10/19)

The U.S. Department Of Housing And Urban Development Inspector General Opened A Review Into The State’s Distribution Of Hurricane Recovery Funds. “The Office of Inspector General for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development is conducting a review of North Carolina’s agency that distributes federal aid money intended to help rebuild from hurricanes.” (Nick Ochsner, “HUD Inspector General Reviewing NC Recovery Efforts As New Report Outlines Slow, Wasteful Spending,” WBTV, 5/20/19)

Cooper’s Response To Hurricane Florence In 2018 Was Plagued By “Patting His Own Back,” Dragging His Feet, And State Contracting Scandals

As North Carolinians Were Still Waiting For Hurricane Matthew Assistance, Hurricane Florence Hit The State With Damages Totaling $17 Billion. “The latest estimates from the state Department of Insurance mean that the physical and economic harm caused by Hurricane Florence has outstripped the combined damages of two previous storms, hurricanes Matthew and Floyd.” (Richard Stradling & Abbie Bennett, “‘Historic’ Hurricane Florence caused more damage than Matthew and Floyd combined, governor says,” The News & Observer, 11/1/18)

Cooper Was Slammed For Releasing “Close To Tacky” Campaign Style Videos On The State’s Response While Communities Were Devastated And A Quarter-Million Households Were Without Power. “Each video shows Cooper shaking hands and helping victims and shaking more hands in areas helped by Hurricane Florence. They are well-crafted videos — the governor in action while the governor offers his thoughts on the storm and North Carolinians. But they also feel … odd.. On Tuesday, more than a quarter-million households in North Carolina were still without power from Florence. Tens of thousands are piecing together their homes and lives. Do we really need videos that seem like they were brought to us from the Campaign to Re-elect Roy Cooper?” (Editorial, “Hurricane Florence: It Is Too Soon For Gov. Roy Cooper To Be Patting His Own Back?,” The Charlotte Observer, 9/20/18)

The Cooper Administration Awarded A Seven-Figure Contract To Help Repair Destroyed Homes That Was Quickly Cancelled “Due To Improper Procurement Process.” “A seven-figure contract to help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Florence was cancelled in late December, a little more than a month after it was awarded, due to errors in the procurement process.” (Nick Ochsner, “Contract For Hurricane Florence Recovery Cancelled Due To Improper Procurement Process,” WBTV, 1/4/19)