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FEMA aid tops $1 million

U.S. Small Business Administration officials Jacqueline Swinger and Carlos Gonzalez assist a storm victim at the Disaster Recovery Center in Windsor. Another local center, staffed by SBA and FEMA officials, is also open in Winton. Staff Photo by Thadd White

Federal assistance for flooding victims in eastern North Carolina has already reached the seven-digit dollar level.

Less than a week after North Carolina received a major disaster declaration for flooding from Tropical Storm Nicole, almost 1,300 people have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance and more than $1,300,000 in federal grants have been approved to help storm survivors.

FEMA officials continue in their efforts to encourage those affected by the storm in 10 disaster-declared counties that they need to register their information. Two of the disaster areas are Bertie and Hertford counties. Storm victims can register their information either online (www.DisasterAssistance.gov at anytime) or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 800-462-7585 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Multilingual assistance is available at the call centers.

Assistance potentially available from FEMA includes grants to help pay for temporary disaster housing needs, grants for essential repairs to make residences safe, sanitary and functional and replacement grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs.

In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and renters as well as businesses.

When registering, applicants should have the following information readily available:

Current and pre-disaster address;

Current telephone numbers;

Social Security number; and

Insurance coverage, policy number(s) and agent’s name if possible.

Once registered, people may visit a disaster recovery center for more information. Locally, those centers are located at the Bertie County Council on Aging, 103 W. School Street in Windsor and the Hertford County Cooperative Extension Center, 301 West Tryon Street in Winton.

North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration jointly operate disaster recovery centers where specialists are available to assist survivors with their recovery process.

At the centers, registrants may speak personally with specialists, check the status of their registration or get answers to disaster-related questions. They also can get referral information about state government and local nonprofit agencies that may have additional assistance programs.

In addition, homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations can get information about the SBA low-interest disaster loan application as well as assistance in completing application.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Meanwhile, Community Relations specialists from the state of North Carolina and FEMA are working with local partners to reach out to storm victims. Teams are going door-to-door in communities in the disaster-declared counties offering individuals and business owners information about available disaster assistance programs and encouraging people to register for federal disaster assistance.

Team members also meet with representatives of community-based organizations, community leaders and public officials. When Community Relations team members meet a disaster survivor who has unmet needs, they pass that information on to the state or federal staff best able to respond.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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