Gov. Cooper meets with Robeson County center helping to rebuild homes after Hurricane Matthew

ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) - More than 730 applications for disaster relied were filed in Robeson County after Hurricane Matthew struck in October 2016.

On Tuesday morning, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stopped by ReBuild NC, a disaster relief center in Robeson County, to tour the facility and check on the progress of the home recovery program.

Cooper says Hurricane Matthew caused more than $4 billion worth of damage in eastern North Carolina, including Robeson County. So far, the state has provided more than $630 million to storm victims, but that's still not enough.

Cooper said his proposed budget includes more money for the victims through the Community Development Grant Disaster Relief Funds and Hazard Mitigation Funds.

"We are not going to forget the victims of Hurricane Matthew. That work will continue," said Cooper. "I know that people in my staff, people in the Robeson County staff, are going to work hard to make sure that victims are compensated and that we're able to move forward."

John Cantey, mayor pro tem of Lumberton, was at the ReBuild NC center when Cooper stopped by.

Even though he's back in his home today, Cantey said it wasn't an easy or cheap fix.

"Had to do loans, had to do checking, had to do savings," he said.

Cantey said he lives in an area that rarely floods, but that wasn't the case in 2016 when he had to be rescued by boat after the storm.

He eventually came back to a flooded and damaged home that needed $88,000 in repairs.

Cantey said while he appreciates help from FEMA, he only received $15,000 and had to come up with the rest.

"They only give like a tenth of what you need to get back into your home unless you have your own money, your own savings, flooding insurance," he said.

Cantey said he came down to ReBuild NC because he was told if he could show proof of his expenses, he could be reimbursed.

The application process has eight phrases. Cantey said he filed back in January of this year and is still in phase one.

"You know it's just a time consuming thing, you know, and I guess by the time I get assistance, I guess we'll be going into the winter of 2018," he said.

While Cantey was able to get back in his home, he said there are 325 families that he knows of who are still homeless. He said the community has been a huge help, but what the victims need the most is more money.

"The Methodist man, the Baptist man are doing all that they can, but right now we just need the funds. We need the money," Cantey said.

Cooper says while the process for getting the funds takes time, people in the county will start to see improvements soon.

"Also repairs will be made to those homes. We've also had some success in public infrastructure, both here in Lumberton and in Robeson County, and we're working very closely with the county to get those funds processed as quickly as possible," Cooper said.

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