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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Richard H. Moore, August 2, 2002. Interview K-0598. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Responding to criticism for delayed aid and overlooked victims

Moore responds to criticism regarding delays to providing relief and that some people had fallen through the cracks in the wake of Hurricane Floyd and the state's response to it. According to Moore, accountability was one reason that aid was sometimes delayed and he laments the fact that some people had, indeed, fallen through the cracks in the process. Ultimately, however, he expresses pride in the state's response to the disaster (as is evident throughout the interview) and he argues that the response was a learning process.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Richard H. Moore, August 2, 2002. Interview K-0598. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LEDA HARTMAN:
Okay, this is great. I need to ask you two devil's advocate questions.
RICHARD MOORE:
Okay. All right.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Just to be balanced. I am sure you know this more than I do, but a lot of the people on the ground who were waiting to get out of those FEMA trailers, or waiting to get their checks so they could reopen their business, whatever, so many people expressed frustration at the delay of government, and said, "If we hadn't had private organizations working with us, churches, charities, volunteers, we wouldn't have gotten anywhere. The government was so slow, and there was so much frustration." What's your response? I know you've heard that many times before.
RICHARD MOORE:
And my response to that is six-hundred dollar toilet seats and five-hundred dollar hammers. And the reason I say that is because government has a fiduciary responsibility to the rest of the tax payers whose money they're spending, and most of the bureaucratical delayߞnow I have to say, I think we've cut that delay down tremendously over the yearsߞmost of that delay is verifying that you're owed the money. I know that that is very, very frustrating but when you're on this side of the counter, that's part of what the people who put you there expect from you.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Accountability.
RICHARD MOORE:
Accountability. It's a luxury, and it's a flexibility that private charities and industry have that you don't have when you're spending government dollars. Is that always a legitimate excuse? No, but it's oftentimes. I've watched the process of these claims. I've studied these systems. I've tried to figure out, how do you cut out some of the delays? Some of it you just can't. If somebody's qualifying for a twenty thousand dollar grant, and they can't earn more than this money, you've got to have the financial data, and you've got to check to make sure that it's accurate financial data before you can let that check go.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Okay. Great. I'm glad I asked you that. The other one is about the people who have fallen between the cracks, the people who are too wealthy to qualify for a lot of assistance, but not wealthy enough to compensate for all their losses.
RICHARD MOORE:
And that's what some of North Carolina's programs tried, were designed to hit the people who were between the cracks. I can remember Governor Hunt saying very early on that there were a lot of people in this storm who paid their taxes, played by the rules, had some assets, and really we wanted some blind, some non-needs based aid. I think some of the programs were conditioned that way, and if people did fall between the cracks, you know, you would like to never see that happen. It always happens in our society, and the best that you can do is to be vigilant, and come back, and try to make sure that there's no way that you can't help them now.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So learn for the future?
RICHARD MOORE:
Well, yeah, gosh. You know, we've learned a lot. This is a building thing. I think we have learned if the State of North Carolina ever has to go in the housing business again, I think we've learned a tremendous amount on what works and what does not work. I think we'll have a whole lot better product if, God forbid, we ever have to do that again. And I really think we saw the storm of a lifetime. I really think it was a hundred-year storm. While we'll see hurricanes again, and while we'll see killer storms, we will not see tidal waves in eastern North Carolina.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Let us hope you're right.