President declares major disaster in North Carolina

Published 11:26 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Two days after President Obama pledged support in the wake of several deadly tornados that struck North Carolina on Saturday, federal funding is on its way to the Tar Heel State, including Bertie and Hertford counties.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Tuesday that federal disaster aid has been made available to North Carolina to supplement the state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding on April 16.

The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Bertie, Bladen, Cumberland, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Wake and Wilson.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis in the counties of Bertie, Bladen, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wake, and Wilson for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

According to a press release sent Tuesday night to this newspaper from FEMA, Michael Bolch has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.  Bolch said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed in the affected areas.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying Wednesday (April 20) for assistance by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.  The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.