Golden LEAF closes $55M Disaster Recovery Program

Golden LEAF closes $55M Disaster Recovery Program


State leaders tasked foundation with distributing funds after 2016 natural disasters



The Golden LEAF Foundation's Board of Directors recently voted to allocate the remaining $14,347,101 in Disaster Recovery Program funding received from the North Carolina General Assembly after last year's hurricane and tropical storms. As of today, the Board has acted on all disaster recovery applications, closing the $55 million program.

Golden LEAF has supported 74 projects for community needs including the repair or replacement of public buildings, equipment, and infrastructure; new infrastructure to serve new housing developments; and loan capital to support small business recovery. The Foundation was able to allocate all disaster recovery funding in less than a year.

Matthew was one of the costliest disasters in our state's history, claiming 31 lives, displacing thousands of North Carolinians, and causing $4.8 billion in flooding damage alone. The challenges facing these communities were substantial enough before Matthew. It was clear that this natural disaster threatened to cause an economic disaster in the communities Golden LEAF serves.

Fair Bluff Volunteer Fire Station experienced considerable flooding during Hurricane Matthew.

The General Assembly responded with two pieces of legislation to support disaster recovery that included a total of $55 million appropriated to the Golden LEAF Foundation. This task was within Golden LEAF's wheelhouse as it has deep relationships with the communities that suffered the most. The Foundation was asked to process applications and distribute disaster relief funding to qualified grantees quickly and efficiently without duplicating the efforts of other funding resources.

Within months, the Foundation hired experienced staff, conducted outreach meetings with local officials through partnerships with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and North Carolina League of Municipalities, developed and distributed grant application forms, coordinated with various state agencies in Gov. Cooper's administration, and visited project sites across Eastern North Carolina. The service was provided without charging administrative costs outside the scope of the Foundation’s traditional operations. The first grants were made in April 2017.

"Many affected communities faced overwhelming costs associated with rebuilding critical infrastructure that provides services to local governments, schools and public safety services - all at once," said Dan Gerlach, President of the Golden LEAF Foundation. "Our state leaders’ direction was clear: get these funds committed rapidly and responsibly to help communities recover as quickly as possible."

The grants cover a broad range of needs in hard hit communities including:

  • Helping replace flooded municipal government buildings and the volunteer fire station in the Columbus County town of Fair Bluff;
  • Aiding the Public Schools of Robeson County to relocate the central office outside of a floodplain, replace equipment and vehicles lost due to flooding, and repair W.H. Knuckles Elementary School;
  • Repairing or replacing critical water, sewer or stormwater infrastructure in more than two dozen communities;
  • Providing funding to Bertie County to construct a joint use facility in Windsor to replace the destroyed public library and Cooperative Extension; and
  • Enabling two hospitals - Cape Fear Valley and Southeastern Health - to prepare for future disasters with the construction of potable water wells.

Click here for a list of Golden LEAF Disaster Recovery projects.

"The Golden LEAF Foundation is proud to help the good citizens of Eastern North Carolina after they suffered one of the worst storms in our state’s history," said Barry Dodson, outgoing Chairman of the Golden LEAF Board of Directors. "We thank the state’s leadership for their ongoing support and vow to keep serving these communities to ensure that they are able to rebuild and thrive once again."