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FEMA aid growing

Disaster Recovery Centers remain open in Bertie (Windsor) and Hertford (Winton) counties. Staff photo by Thadd White

The next step has begun for those applying for federal disaster assistance for damage caused by severe storms and flooding associated with Tropical Storm Nicole one month ago.

Meanwhile, the number of applicants are increasing daily. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spokesperson Don Daniels, more than 2,300 individuals in 10 eastern North Carolina counties, earlier declared as federal disaster areas, have applied for assistance as of Oct. 27.

Of that number, 571 are residents of Bertie and Hertford counties. Daniels said that 467 individuals in Bertie County and another 104 in Hertford County had filled out the necessary paperwork.

Daniels added that as of this week, FEMA has approved $2,313,999.30 in assistance to residents in the 10 counties.

The application process will now lead inspectors contracted by FEMA to contact the disaster victims and make on-site visits.

“These inspectors are setting up appointments to meet residents at flood-damaged properties, so it is important they give FEMA a current telephone number,” State Coordinating Officer Doug Hoell said. “We know many residents have been living in temporary locations and it’s crucial that (the inspectors) have a way to contact you.”

Once inspectors arrive, they will have approved FEMA badges that include the inspector’s name and photo, and the name of the company under contract with FEMA. They will ask for identification to verify a person’s name and address and registration with FEMA.

Inspectors will not ask for a Social Security number nor ask to be paid for the inspection. The FEMA inspection is free, so beware of fraudulent individuals attempting to charge for an inspection.

“The inspector does not determine whether someone is eligible for assistance, or the amount of a FEMA grant the individual may receive,” said Federal Coordinating Officer W. Montague Winfield.

The inspection may take about 30 minutes, during which the inspector will assess disaster-related damage for both real and personal property and may take photos of the interior and exterior of the damaged dwelling. The inspector enters damage-related information into a hand-held computer and sends that data to FEMA.

President Obama declared the disaster on Oct. 14, thus authorizing assistance in Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Craven, Hertford, Jones, Onslow, Pender, Pitt and Tyrrell counties.

To register for assistance, residents should call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585. Online registration is available at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

For more information about this disaster, go to www.ncem.org and www.fema.gov.

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.

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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