RED SPRINGS — Four months after Hurricane Matthew swept through the town, Red Springs is still putting together the paperwork necessary to recoup expenses for storm-related damages and cleanup from the federal government.
“It’s a slow process,” Billy Owens, of the North Carolina Emergency Management office, told Red Springs commissioners Tuesday. “We all wish this could go faster.”
Owens told the board that his job is make sure all the town’s documentation and financial information needed to ensure Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement is in order.
“I’m here to make sure all laws and regulations are followed so that you can get reimbursed for everything you should,” he said. “This is a timely process and a lot of red tape to go through. We want to make sure that when you ask for reimbursement for a project and submit your application to FEMA, that it sticks.”
Owens said he only works in the area of public assistance and does not work with programs aimed at helping individuals recover from the disaster.
Two hurricane-related expenses have been submitted to FEMA and approved for reimbursement, Owens said. These include $183,000, or 75 percent, of the cost for debris cleanup, and about $57,000 for “emergency protective measures.”
The other 25 percent of the $244,000 debris cleanup reimbursement will be made after all the documentation is presented to FEMA, Owens said.
“Only up to 75 percent of reimbursement can be given until a project is 100 percent complete and approved by FEMA,” Owens said.
The commissioners also approved up to $20,000 to complete removal of debris from local properties. This is in addition to $25,000 the town previously allocated.
The cost of removing the debris from private property must come from local funds, Owens said. FEMA will only reimburse the town for the cost of removing debris once it is moved to roadway right-of-ways.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Heard a presentation from Tom Keyserling, with the faculty of the Department of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, concerning a program to be conducted in Red Springs stressing diet as a healthy lifestyle that can help prevent heart disease. The program will involve peer counselors from the community and up to 80 local residents.
— Recognized Jennings Jacobs as the Red Springs Citizen of the Month. Jacobs manages Boles Funeral Homes in Red Springs, Lumberton, St. Pauls and Rowland.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.