General Assembly bill would cover hurricane repair costs for Ocracoke School, ECSU

The Ocracoke School Gymnasium took at least a foot of water. [Hyde County Schools photo]

The state House and Senate have approved dueling hurricane relief bills to help cover damage caused by storms in North Carolina over the past two years, with the House version including funds to repair Ocracoke School.

House Bill 1023 quickly moved through the House on Wednesday.

The local provisions in the House proposal appropriate $1.7 million for Ocracoke School, portions of which were flooded by nearly three feet of soundside storm surge during Hurricane Dorian in September.

Elizabeth City State University will receive $5.2 million for Dorian-related repairs to academic and residential halls.

Another $1.8 million is designated for construction of a pump station and related watershed restoration infrastructure for Lake Mattamuskeet.

And the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission would be granted more authority to remove abandoned vessels from navigable waterways.

But the Senate approved H200 on Thursday, a striped down version of a disaster relief package, with just $102 million in state funds that match federal disaster aid allocated after hurricanes Matthew, Florence, Michael and Dorian.

A conference committee of House and Senate members was appointed to work out the differences.

Both chambers have agreed to return on Nov. 13, as the stalemate with Gov. Cooper over the state government budget for the next two years continues to drag on longer than any session in the last two decades.

Cooper vetoed the spending package this summer. The House has voted to override the veto, but the Senate continues to postpone their override votes.

Another Ocracoke School-related bill sponsored by Rep. Bobby Hanig of Currituck, S312, was signed into law on Friday by Cooper.

The General Assembly passed the bill on Oct. 25 forgiving 20 days of school missed due to the storm and guarantee teachers and staff are paid their full salaries despite the closure.

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