North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper made his first official visit as governor to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and its surrounding installations April 9.

During his visit, Cooper met with the senior leaders of II Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, as well as the Marines who work on the installations in order to get a better understanding of the damages caused by Hurricane Florence.

The governor toured many of the facilities that were damaged by the storms last year, allowing him to see first-hand how the Marines and their mission have been affected.

“I’ve been spending the day talking with the men and women who are leading the effort from this base and talking about the difficulty that they are facing with loss of training, with families having been displaced because of the storm,” Cooper said. “We need to focus on fixing the problems on the bases so the Marines can instead focus more on combat readiness.”

One of the primary reasons for the governor’s visit was to discuss how to secure funding for the repairs. The most recent estimates for how much it will cost to repair and reconstruct all of the affected facilities sits at approximately $3.4 billion.

“As North Carolina is waiting on recovery from Washington D.C., so is Camp Lejeune,” Cooper said. “We are teaming up to push Congress to make sure that the deal is done as quickly as possible so that this base can receive the help it needs and that North Carolinians can receive the additional help that we know that we need for long term recovery.”

 A major factor that contributed to the damage to more than 800 buildings on the installation is the aging infrastructure that is up to 65- to 70-years old in many cases.

“There was very little damage to the buildings that were built over the last 10 to 15 years, but is was catastrophic to many of the older buildings,” said Brig. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, commanding general, Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, during a previous interview on Feb. 1.

Despite the problems that the community has faced since last hurricane season, the Marines and their families have remained focused on accomplishing the mission.

“These difficulties from these storms have forced us to grow together, recover together and therefore become a smarter and stronger force together,” Cooper said. 

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