Dept. of Public Safety audit finds Hurricane Florence funds properly allocated, disbursed

Hurricane Florence Recovery Funds Audit 2023_DPS
Hurricane Florence fund disbursement chart taken from the Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Fund – 2023 Preliminary Financial Audit produced by the NC State Auditor’s Office.

By A.P. Dillon 

RALEIGH — A recent audit report by the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) has found that the N.C. Department of Public Safety (DPS) properly allocated and disbursed funds in “accordance with Hurricane Florence Recovery legislation,” passed in 2018.  

According to the audit, DPS had allocated a total of $942.4 million in Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Funds and disbursed $870.5 million (92.4%) to recipients as of June 30, 2023. Additionally, the audit cited DPS as having disbursed $87.8 million to recipients between Feb. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2023. 

“The $71.9 million remaining to be disbursed represents the balance for which recipients have yet to request reimbursement,” the audit report states.  

The funds were to be distributed to 12 state agencies, 2 institutions of higher education, and Golden LEAF, a non-profit foundation as specified in the legislation, however, the OSA gave examples of some entities that did not make requests for funding.  

Examples included the Department of Agriculture, the NC Department of Environmental Quality, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Department of Public Instruction, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, and DPS.  

Some of the entities provided a reason for not applying such as obtaining other funding, contingency issues, or a program the money would be used for was no longer active.  

At least one example, the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS), included a return of some funding. 

Per the audit, NCCCS did not request $2.1 million “for repair and renovation of local community college facilities and to offset revenue shortfalls due to enrollment declines caused by Hurricane Florence.” The explanation from NCCCS was the “$1.6 million has been obligated for facility repairs for two remaining projects and $478,356 was returned because it was not needed due to higher-than-expected enrollment revenue.” 

Similarly, the Department of Public Instruction didn’t request $2.9 million for facility repair or school nutrition equipment replacement because the department said the “funds will not be spent because other funds were used to support these costs.” 

The audit’s scope did not include federal disaster recovery funds or other state disaster recovery funds received from sources other than the Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Fund. 

Other areas not covered by the audit included “compliance with requirements” and “adherence to reporting requirements” established by Hurricane Florence Recovery legislation. 

Additionally, the audit did not examine whether or not the recovery funds were spent in accordance with the legislation as well as whether or not programs that received the money “accomplished their intended purpose.” 

In its response letter, DPS agreed with the OSA’s findings.