FAIR BLUFF, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina town still trying to recover from damage caused by Hurricane Matthew almost two years ago is getting money to hire three employees to help its efforts.

Officials from the state Department of Public Safety said in a news release the town of Fair Bluff will soon hire a project manager, a land use planner and a police officer. Legislators included the money in the state budget after Gov. Roy Cooper proposed the expenditure.

In June, the Fayetteville Observer reported that before Matthew struck, the town had a population of 900 to 950 residents. Afterward, the town counted about 600 residents.

Half of the approximately 20 small businesses in downtown Fair Bluff hadn't reopened by late May.

State officials say the project manager and land use planner will work on recovery initiatives while the police officer will focus on crime prevention. The officer will focus on the 47 building sites undergoing repairs or remaining vacant since Hurricane Matthew.

The news release said 71 homes have been approved for mitigation with 34 homeowners getting buyouts, 17 homes being elevated and 20 being torn down and reconstructed to better withstand the elements.

In addition, state officials said many Fair Bluff residents are among the 180 from Columbus County who have applied for disaster recovery assistance through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant program. Those applications are currently working their way through the federal approval process.

Pamela Patenaude, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, visited Fair Bluff two weeks ago, along with U.S. Rep. David Rouzer and Mike Sprayberry, director of North Carolina Emergency Management, the state news release says.

She met with town leaders and residents, saw businesses that remain closed and toured once-flooded neighborhoods still struggling to recover, the release said. She pledged more HUD resources to speed the flow of assistance to Fair Bluff and other North Carolina communities.