Resiliency is Key to Economic Recovery After Florence
By County Manager Chris Coudriet
New Hanover County experienced significant impacts from Hurricane Florence. The preliminary damage assessment across the county is more than $450 million in real and personal property losses. And that is just one gauge of the storm’s impact on our economy.
We cannot quantitatively capture the value in lost economic activity as a result of the storm but suffice it to say, we can reasonably imagine it is in the tens of millions of dollars.
The hurricane disrupted our homes, our businesses and our labor market. It impacted our infrastructure and other business capital, and our entire population was affected.
Recovery from Hurricane Florence has begun, but it will take coordinated planning and state and federal resources to help build a stronger and more resilient Cape Fear region.
The need for resources in our community has grown and will continue to grow. In recognition of where we are and where we need to be, and to ensure that our community has an effective, long-term and resilient recovery, New Hanover County has created a Hurricane Florence Recovery Coordination Office. The office will manage our contract support, help set priorities for the county, and effectively manage the supplemental resources that come our way.
The recovery coordination office will serve New Hanover County and our units of local government, non-profits and other organizations by providing coordination of data, policy development and priority-setting for the use of state and federal recovery funding. The office will also be the communication conduit between state and federal agencies, the county and local agencies.
Recovery planning is a top priority for New Hanover County, and projects post-Florence will continue to advance the county’s strategic priorities. We will advance policy decisions that support business recovery and growth. We will encourage more private investment in a way that reduces risk but increases our community’s economic advantage. We will focus on developing a resilient talent base that can support the private sector’s need to fill higher-wage jobs. And we will use informed data to develop and use land in a way that reduces potential infrastructure loss from future disasters.
We have already seen movement by our state and federal legislators to provide critical funding to assist with effective recovery – both in the short- and long-term. The county will help develop policies and priorities, so this funding can help us prepare for – and mitigates the impacts of – future storms.
We have learned a lot already from Hurricane Florence, and we are now in a position to harness those lessons to make resiliency a part of everything we do.
As a coastal community, we will always be vulnerable to this type of disaster. But we have the opportunity now to benefit from the hard lessons we have learned. We have the opportunity now to build back – in smarter and stronger ways – so that we can recover from the impacts of future storms even more efficiently.
Hurricane Florence can, and should, leave our community, our county and the entire state more resilient. So, as we rebuild and recover, New Hanover County will be proactive and use this storm to move our community forward, advance job creation, and grow our economy – in real and responsible ways.
Learn more about the work of the county’s Recovery Coordination Office here.