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Governor Cooper surveys Florence damage in eastern Carolina

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) - - Governor Roy Cooper visited eastern Carolina Thursday, stopping first in Jacksonville at Onslow Memorial Hospital.

The hospital has an estimated $2.2 million worth in damages. A majority of the damage was done to their education building due to water infiltration. 

As a result, a board room, a library, and several other rooms were considered a complete loss. The hospital anticipates having the damages repaired within the next year once they receive funding. 

Cooper also took the time to talk about a long term effort that will improve healthcare across North Carolina with the expansion of Medicaid. 

"You make healthcare costs better for everyone. You help fight the opioid crisis,  help provide more mental health for people and you increase the bottom line for our state," said Cooper.  

He says he plans to work with state legislatures to craft a Medicaid plan for North Carolina. 

Cooper in a statement is urging the U.S. Senate to pass the Disasters Appropriations Bill.

“In the United States House, they passed a $14 billion-plus package," said Cooper. "A significant amount of money should be earmarked for North Carolina and Hurricane Florence recovery. We hope the U.S. Senate will quickly pass it  and the president will sign it.”

Cooper also visited Beaufort as part of his trip. 

His first stop was at Beaufort Elementary School, which was damaged by Hurricane Florence.

Governor Cooper also met with business owners in commercial fishing and oyster farming who were also impacted. 

“Our fishermen are an important part of North Carolina's economy," Cooper said. "We know that they've been hit hard. We've appropriated money to help. I wanted to hear firsthand from some of our commercial fisherman about how this is affecting their families and their economy."

The governor also credits Carteret County Schools for being able to get schools up and running within 15 days after the storm.

“We want to provide all of the help that we can to this school and the people who have suffered from Hurricane Florence, but we also know that our local counties, particularly the more rural counties, need help with school construction," Cooper said. 

Cooper said this year he will propose a $2 billion bond to help rural counties build the schools they need. 

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