Governor Cooper: Irma 'Dealt A Good Blow' To Mountains, Relief Funds Still Uncertain For Region

Sep 14, 2017

After cutting its way through the South, Hurricane Irma left a large swath of devastation in its wake in Western North Carolina. On Wednesday Governor Roy Cooper toured a part of the region hit particularly hard by the storm. BPR's Davin Eldridge was there.

When Governor Cooper arrived at the Cashiers Fire Department, he made sure that he shook hands with every emergency worker on-site.

Thousands were still without power there--more than a day after Irma had passed through.  Cooper said the state was fortunate to have avoided excessive rainfall, but it did not dodge strong winds that accounted for falling trees which brought down numerous power lines. 

Emergency workers in Jackson County reported they checked-in on more than 250 residents in the area, as part of a larger effort in the region throughout the week to ensure the local population is safe.
Credit Davin Eldridge

  “It’s not often that Western North Carolina has to deal with the effects of a hurricane. But this is one that did deal you a good blow. We’re fortunate that we didn’t have serious injury and loss of life, and we count our blessings for that.”

Looking forward, Cooper said there was little the region or state could do to better improve its odds with future storms. In essence, state and local agencies worked closely together while monitoring its path early-on. Once it became clear that Irma would hit the western part of the state, Cooper said emergency personnel statewide acted accordingly by moving more much-needed resources into the mountains. All things considered , the governor said the state came out relatively unscathed by the storm.

“I think right now we have a good coordination among our local, state and fed officials. And the fact that we’re working so closely together I think it’s very positive. I think it’s a little to early to assess and see what we can do better. We could have gotten it an awful lot worse, and I’m glad that we didn’t.”

Cooper says its uncertain when or if federal disaster funds will be made available as of yet, remarking that most FEMA funds are tied up with the relief efforts of Florida and Texas--but he's actively seeking them nonetheless.