Robeson County School District Hires Lawyer After FEMA Denies Hurricane Damage Funding Request

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LUMBERTON, NC (WMBF) – Robeson County Public Schools will appeal FEMA’s decision to deny their request for funding to reconstruct several buildings damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Hurricane Matthew caused historic flooding in the town of Lumberton and other parts of Robeson County. Several buildings in the district were also damaged beyond repair.

“We have asked FEMA for alternative procedures for our central office complex, planetarium and West Lumberton Elementary School to combine these damage funds to build a new facility,” said Deputy Chief Financial Officer Hugh McIlwain.

McIlwain said the district has requested $ 87 million to rebuild the damaged facilities.

FEMA rejected their request and offered $ 4.6 million in return.

McIlwain said the total of $ 87 million did not come out of nowhere. He said they had been advised by several agencies before submitting the application.

“In fact, FEMA helped us two years ago to redo this application. They guided us to that number and now they’ve declined this first round, which is why we are appealing even though they guided us to that number, ”said McIlwain.

McIlwain said $ 4 million would not provide the amount of money needed to demolish and rebuild the facility.

The district has hired a Washington DC lawyer to fight over money it thinks is owed.

“We’re just trying to get whatever we can get, so that we can put it back into the education of our students,” McIlwain said.

A FEMA official said they were unable to comment at this time.

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