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North Carolina Receives State and Federal Funding to Support Victims of Hurricane Florence

Raleigh

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has secured more than $8.5 million in new federal and state funding to support the ongoing behavioral health needs of those impacted by Hurricane Florence. The funds will help make recovery possible for those in the state’s disaster declared counties. 
 
“Storms do more than damage property; they disrupt our sense of safety and community and can have lasting impact on our mental health and wellness,” said Kody H. Kinsley, Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. “Responding for a sustained period with appropriate behavioral health services helps those impacted normalize the event and move through the trauma they have experienced. It also helps communities build resiliency and coping mechanisms to face future disasters.” 

As part of the $8.5 million in new funding, the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services has secured a $3.5 million grant from the federal government to fund a door-to-door behavioral health outreach program across all impacted areas, since many needing services may be relocated.  

This Crisis Counseling Program will connect with more than 49,000 individuals and families, help assess their behavioral health needs and get them plugged in to services in their community. More than 200 people will be hired to make this outreach program possible — including licensed clinicians, housing and resource navigators, and children specialists. This grant funds the first 90 days of the program, and the division will be seeking additional grant funding from the federal government to sustain this program for a year. Information about where to find help for storm-related behavioral health needs is available here.

DHHS estimates more than 275,000 people living in the disaster impacted counties have no health insurance coverage. So, as part of Governor Roy Cooper’s Hurricane Florence Relief Package, the General Assembly has appropriated $5 million in new funding to help uninsured hurricane victims receive these much-needed services and supports. DHHS will use these funds to target services such as crisis counseling for children and adults, community or school-based screenings and trainings, and transportation costs for patients to attend appointments.

DHHS expects the need for mental health services to continue to grow and peak around six months after the event, as seen in past storms, with many still in shelters and others still trying to get back on their feet.