Disaster declaration could help storm-damaged counties
Gov. Pat McCrory has asked that several counties, including Orange, be declared disasters to help offset the response and recovery costs from the most recent winter storm.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, McCrory applied for federal disaster declaration for Alamance, Person, Randolph, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Guilford and Granville Counties, in addition to Orange County, to help recoup the estimated $26.9 million in recovery and response costs to state and local governments.
“We’ve seen more than our fair share of winter storms this year but this snow and ice brought down more trees and power lines than any other storm we’ve experienced in the past decade,” McCrory said.
On March 6 and 7 the combination of ice, sleet and freezing rain on top of snow followed by strong winds brought down thousands of trees and knocked down power lines across the central region of the state.
Thousands of people were left without power for several days. Initial reports estimated between 750,000 and 1 million cubic yards of debris to be removed from personal and public properties across the nine requested counties.
More than 14,000 Duke Energy customers in Orange County were without power the day after the winter storm. Piedmont Electric Membership Corp. had more than 21,000 customers without power.
Orange County Schools opened C.W. Stanford Middle School as an emergency shelter for those without power. American Red Cross executive director Stan Morris said that of the handful of people who spent the night, most were from the Efland area down through Hillsborough.
Both companies dispatched additional workers and called on electric providers from additional states to help restore power.
“I commend our local emergency management teams and first responders for their tremendous response during the storm,” said McCrory. “Now it’s our turn to help communities recover from the devastating costs associated with this ice storm.”
If approved, federal dollars could pay up to 75 percent of the costs associated with the response and recovery efforts from the storm including tree and limb debris removal and repairs to local electric cooperatives infrastructure.