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Florence Relief Spending Plan Input Sought

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 a.m. Sept. 14, 2018, as a Category 1 storm. The GOES East satellite captured this geocolor image of the massive storm at 7:45 a.m. ET, shortly after it moved ashore. Photo: NOAA

The state Division of Marine Fisheries is asking for feedback on a draft spending plan to help seafood dealers and processors, bait and tackle shops, for-hire businesses and ocean fishing piers that can document lost revenue or damages due to the 2018 Hurricane Florence.

The $7.7 million in funding is through federal fisheries disaster aid for Hurricane Florence, officials announced Wednesday. The spending plan must be approved by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries for the state to receive the funding.

The public can submit written comments by 5 p.m. May 28  through a form on the webpage or by mail to Hurricane Florence Federal Fishery Disaster Assistance Comments, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557. The division will not accept comments submitted by email.

The draft spending plan proposes disbursing the funding through direct payments to those stakeholders that can document lost revenue or damages due to Hurricane Florence. These stakeholders were not compensated by earlier state-funded payments to commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters. The draft spending plan and other information about the Hurricane Florence federal fishery disaster declaration and assistance can be found online.

In a 2019 Hurricane Florence Fisheries Damage Assessment report, NOAA Fisheries estimated $38 million in damages to vessels and business, $56.5 million in lost revenues and 3,500 fishing-related job losses.

The state appropriated $11.6 million to the Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Marine Fisheries to help commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters with income losses from harvest reductions. Gov. Roy Cooper won a federal disaster declaration for the state’s marine fishing industry, beginning the process of federal disaster assistance. The state Division of Marine Fisheries was notified in March 2020 eligibility for $7,728,000 in federal fishery disaster assistance after NOAA Fisheries approves the spending plan developed by the state.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.