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Officials tour Gastonia flood project, announce federal grants

081222 FEMA Gastonia tour.jfif
Federal Emergency Management Agency
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Gov. Roy Cooper joined federal officials on a tour of erosion along Duharts Creek in Gastonia Friday.

Federal officials and Gov. Roy Cooper toured a federally-funded flood control project in Gastonia Friday to promote two programs that help communities nationwide deal with the effects of climate change.

The $5.9 million project along Duharts Creek was one of 11 in North Carolina funded this year through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). After the tour, officials announced that money for the two programs has increased to $3.1 billion next year thanks to appropriations in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell joined White House infrastructure adviser Mitch Landrieu at the event, along with the governor.

Frequent rain and flooding has eroded the banks of Duharts Creek. The grant will help the city use "natural solutions" to stabilize about 8,000 feet of the creek bank and protect electricity poles and sewer lines, according to the governor's office.

"Funding for this Gastonia project and others in North Carolina will help reduce risk to homes and other property and improve public safety, making our communities more resilient," Cooper said in a press release.

Besides Gastonia, nine other North Carolina communities got funding in the Fiscal 2021 round of grants through Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC). The annual program pays for projects that prepare for climate-driven disasters including floods, hurricanes and wildfires. Next year's program will more than double to nearly $2.3 billion.

Meanwhile, FEMA's Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program also gave $570,000 to a Mecklenburg County program that buys houses in flood-prone areas. It was the only North Carolina grant winner this year. The FMA grant program is increasing to $800 million nationwide next year.

“Climate change is an existential threat to our nation and our national security, as extreme weather events increasingly are disrupting our lives and our economy,” Mayorkas said in a press release. “With historic levels of funding for the BRIC and FMA programs being announced today, we are investing in our nation’s resilience and building individual and community preparedness across the country.”

North Carolina got more BRIC grants this year than any other state. Local governments have until Jan. 23 to apply for Fiscal 2022 grants. Here's the list of North Carolina programs funded this year through both BRIC and FMA.

BRIC 

  • Gastonia - Stream restoration and infrastructure protection along Duharts Creek - $5.9 million
  • Siler City - Blood Run Pump Station Relocation and Sewer Line Replacement - $5 million
  • Sawmills - South Caldwell Sewer Pump Station Elevation Project - $189,000      
  • Greenville - St. Andrews Drive Infrastructure Protection and Stream Restoration - $3.45 million  
  • Pollocksville - Building Elevations to Restore the Town's Commercial Corridor - $1.08 million
  • Fair Bluff - Fair Bluff Park Phase 2 - $2.44 million
  • Hillsborough - Resilient Regional Water Supply Project- $1.01 million
  • Salisbury - Water Supply Resiliency Project for Pump Station Along Yadkin River -$22.5 million
  • Fayetteville - Wayland Drive Drainage Improvements - $2.61 million    
  • Hillsborough - River Pumping Station Relocation from Floodway - $5.81 million 

FMA

  • Mecklenburg County – Briar Creek residential acquisitions - $570,1899 two buy two homes in the Briar Creek area that are at high risk of flooding. 

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.
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