DRC’s flooded with storm aid requests

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Nearly one-quarter of the 30,000-plus eastern North Carolina citizens applying for FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program in the wake of Hurricane Isabel are residents of the Roanoke-Chowan area.

Wayne Goodson, spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), released the official numbers as of Monday of this week. They revealed that Bertie County topped the 47 counties designated as federal disaster areas with 2,505 assistance applications. Hertford County (2,414) was fourth on that list.

Additionally, a total of 1,563 Northampton County citizens have applied for assistance. Another 1,154 applications have been received from Gates County residents.

&uot;To date, this area of the state has seen over 7,500 residents (7,636 to be exact) apply for aid through our Individual Assistance Program,&uot; noted Goodson. &uot;And we still have DRC’s (Disaster Recovery Centers) open in Ahoskie and Windsor. We are still in the process of taking applications, so your numbers will grow even higher.&uot;

The DRC’s Goodson made reference to are open 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, in Ahoskie (Ahoskie Recreation Center on West Main St.) and Windsor (Bertie County Council on Aging, 103 School St.). Goodson confirmed that both would remain open, &uot;until further notice.&uot;

&uot;It is FEMA’s goal not to leave a disaster affected area until everyone, private citizens and businesses, with storm damage has had ample time and opportunity to apply for help,&uot; he stressed.

Goodson said that, as of the current time, FEMA plans to accept disaster assistance applications at least through Nov. 17. He stated that even if a DRC closes in any area, residents of those communities could still apply for assistance up until Nov. 17.

The application process begins with a toll-free phone call (1-800-621-FEMA). For those with speech or hearing impairments, call 1-800-462-7585).

&uot;Even if you don’t think you may be eligible for FEMA assistance, we still urge you to call,&uot; said Goodson. &uot;Let FEMA make the determination of eligibility. In other words, don’t rule yourself out.&uot;

Goodson said the phone call was the key to the entire process. There, applicants are given a identification number they can use during their &uot;face-to-face&uot; meetings with a FEMA representative at the DRC.

He also reminded area residents that have yet to apply for assistance, they can do so even if they have insurance coverage.

&uot;In some cases, the homeowners or renters insurance policies may not be adequate for total repairs,&uot; noted Goodson. &uot;FEMA can help fill in the gaps between the insurance settlement and the actual dollar amount of the storm-related repairs.&uot;

Other aid offered by FEMA includes rental assistance for temporary relocation while repairs are being made; reimbursement for motel bills if a residence was uninhabitable due to the storm; and loss of personal property.

In order for reimbursement for storm-related damages covered by FEMA, Goodson stressed that precise documentation of losses were necessary. He urged those affected by the storm to save all receipts from bills paid for property repairs or replacing essential possessions. He also urged applicants to document their damages through photographs or videotape.

To date, FEMA has approved more than $21.5 million in disaster assistance in the 47-county area.