Utility workers repair damaged power lines in Chapel Hill.
President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration Monday, paving the way for federal aid to help nine central North Carolina counties recoup some of the costs associated with recovering from winter storms.
Gov. Pat McCrory requested a federal disaster declaration last week after emergency management staff found enough damage to request assistance for Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Granville, Guilford, Orange, Person and Randolph counties.
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The damage came from the half-inch of ice, sleet and freezing rain fell on top of several inches of snow on March 6 and 7. Heavy winds also toppled thousands of trees already weighed down by the heavy ice.
Damage assessment teams estimate the ice storm response and recovery cost state and local governments $26.9 million.
The declaration means that federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the storm. Funding is also available for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
"The last winter storm wreaked havoc across the state, with the Triad and Virginia border counties receiving the brunt of damages," McCrory said Monday. "This federal assistance will help the most impacted counties and electric co-ops recover some of the funds used to restore power, remove debris and repair damaged facilities."
Federal Emergency Management Agency said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state