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Robeson County school district hires attorney after FEMA denies funding request for hurricane damage

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:26 PM EDT
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LUMBERTON, N.C. (WMBF) - The Public Schools of Robeson County will appeal FEMA’s decision to deny their funding request to rebuild several buildings damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Hurricane Matthew caused historic flooding across the city of Lumberton and other parts of Robeson County. Several district buildings were also damaged beyond repair.

“We applied with FEMA for alternative procedures for our central office complex, planetarium and West Lumberton Elementary to combine those damage funds to build a new facility,” Assistant Finance Director Hugh McIlwain said.

McIlwain said the district requested $87 million to rebuild the damaged facilities.

FEMA denied their request and offered $4.6 million dollars in return.

McIlwain said the $87 million total didn’t come out of nowhere. He said they were advised by multiple agencies before putting in the request.

“In fact, FEMA two years ago helped us redo this application. They guided us towards this figure and now they’ve denied this first round so that’s why we’re appealing even though they guided us towards that figure,” McIlwain said.

McIlwain said $4 million wouldn’t provide anywhere near the amount of money needed to demolish and rebuild the facilities.

The district has hired an attorney out of Washington D.C. to fight for the money they believe they’re owed.

“We’re just trying to get everything we can get, so we can put it back into the education of our students,” McIlwain said.

A FEMA official said they were unable to comment at this time.

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