FEMA aids tops $500,000 in Bertie

Published 9:38 am Thursday, May 12, 2011

As numbers continue to come in concerning FEMA assistance to R-C area residents affected by the April 16 twin tornadoes, one fact is extremely clear – the storm left a lot of damage in its wake.

According to figures provided to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, $507,699 has been approved for Bertie County storm victims through FEMA’s IHP (Individual and Housing Program).

FEMA officials have received 183 applications for assistance from Bertie County citizens. The numbers show that 159 have been referred to IHP, of which 73 are currently deemed as eligible for assistance.

“That 73 number is a moving target,” said FEMA Public Information Officer Gene Kauffman who has been on the ground in eastern North Carolina over the past two weeks. “Others could be waiting for confirmation that they are eligible for assistance; others could be waiting to see how much of an insurance settlement they may receive before being approved for IHP. Many of the referrals for assistance are still being processed.”

Kauffman noted that even if the IHP referral is denied, there are other options.

“There are other grants, other programs, or a person may opt to apply for a SBA low interest loan to make home repairs,” he said.

To date, $334,315 of the FEMA funds approved in Bertie County have been applied to home repair. In that category of assistance, 57 of 146 referrals have, to date, been deemed as eligible

FEMA has also begun the process of moving temporary housing units into the county. Those modular units are necessitated when there are no other housing options, such as rental property.

“For those meeting the qualifications, we expect additional housing units may be moved here for use as temporary housing,” Kauffman noted.

The furnished housing units include three-bedroom, one-bathroom mobile homes up to 70 feet long and two-bedroom, one-bathroom park models up to 40 feet long. Each unit is equipped with a NOAA weather radio and meets strict specifications for indoor air quality. Some units are designed to be fully accessible according to the guidelines of Americans with Disabilities Act.

If a mobile home or park model can’t be set up on the applicant’s lot, it will be set up on an existing pad in a commercial mobile home park.

Those living in the units will have their cases reviewed each month for continued FEMA assistance. Survivors can live in the units for a maximum of 18 months.

FEMA assistance numbers were also provided for tornado victims in Hertford County. Among the 52 applications, 47 were referred for IHP, of which 12 were eligible for assistance. There were 46 referrals for housing assistance; 10 were approved for a total of $42,615. The total IHP amount expended by FEMA in Hertford County currently stands at $64,174.

Of the 19 counties that were part of the federal disaster declaration stemming from weather-related events on April 16, FEMA has taken 7,587 applications for assistance and, to date, has provided $4.52 million in IHP aid.

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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