ROCKINGHAM — Gov. Roy Cooper stopped by Monday to check on Richmond County’s progress in recovering from Hurricane Florence and to express his appreciation for the work the county did to keep residents safe during the storm.
County and local leaders welcomed Cooper to the new Emergency Services Complex, giving him a tour of the $6 million behemoth that served as a staging area during Hurricane Florence.
“Richmond County was not hit as hard as some other counties, but for those (in Richmond County) that did get hit, it was bad,” Cooper said.
At the peak of the storm, 75 percent of Richmond County residents were without power. The longest anyone was without power was a week, County Manager Bryan Land said.
Cooper commended county leaders for logging no loss of life as a result of the storm, for stepping up to take on all 911 calls from Moore County for a period, and for supporting Scotland and Robeson counties with relief efforts. He touted the “interoperability” of the new complex’s computer systems as a key element that allowed that cooperation to occur.
The governor’s office said Tuesday that the overall death toll for the state has risen from 37 to 39. The two additional deaths were a 47-year-old man who was found dead outside a Duplin County residence on Sept. 21 due to a head injury sustained when he fell from a ladder while repairing storm damage and a 69-year-old man in Pender County who died on Sept. 22 after falling from a roof while cleaning storm debris and repairing damage.
The state has requested federal disaster assistance for 28 counties including Richmond, the most recent addition being Greene County.
Cooper said 32 states had sent in aid.
“That’s what America is all about,” he told the group gathered in the war room of the complex.
Richmond County is the 19th county the governor has visited since the storm.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to approve nearly $1.7 billion in disaster aid for the state. The measure will move to the Senate for final approval.
Cooper said he was confident the aid would be approved but could not provide an exact timeline on when the vote would occur.
County assessors are reviewing residential and commercial properties damaged by Hurricane Florence. They will review properties whose addresses are submitted to this following link: www.crisistrack.com/public/richmondNC/citizenRequest.html. The county will not pay for repairs but asks that residents submit information so officials can keep track of damages.
Those who wish to apply for Disaster Food and Nutrition benefits — reserved for those not already receiving food stamps — should visit the Richmond County Department of Social Services at 125 Caroline St., Rockingham, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Oct. 1-5; or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]