[State of North Carolina] More financial relief is on its way to North Carolina commercial fishermen hit hard by Hurricane Florence, Governor Roy Cooper announced Thursday.
“Hurricane Florence robbed many commercial fishermen of their harvest and this funding is another way North Carolina is working to help businesses critical to our state’s economy,” Gov. Cooper said. “We’ll continue to work hard to respond to the challenges North Carolinians still face as a result of last year’s severe weather.”
A final group of 1,176 checks totaling $450,000 were mailed to eligible fishermen through the Hurricane Florence Commercial Fishing Assistance Program, completing distribution of an $11.6 million package of Hurricane Florence relief efforts for commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters Gov. Cooper signed into law on December 3, 2018.[From North Carolina Fisheries Association]
As of May 20, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries had sent checks totaling $11,022,603.70 to fishermen but had held some in reserve to account for potential late application filers and for those with questions about their harvest records. All late filers and questions have now been settled. This final distribution represents the remaining fund balance and closes the program. In all, checks were written to fishermen in 39 counties.
Distribution of the money was based on reported commercial fishing landings in September, October, and November 2018 as compared to the same months in 2015, 2016, 2017.
Hurricane Florence severely disrupted North Carolina’s commercial fishing industry throughout the fall of 2018. The storm’s historic rainfall and powerful winds destroyed boats, gear and buildings critical to fishing businesses.[Hurricane Florence at landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina on November 9, 2018]
As a result of the storm, Gov. Cooper sought and also won a federal disaster declaration for the state’s marine fishing industry. That designation can assist with additional relief for commercial fishing families struggling to make a living while repairing their businesses.
According to the state Division of Marine Fisheries, the North Carolina commercial fishing industry generated more than $96 million in revenue in 2017.Edited for WeatherNation by Meteorologist Mace Michaels