Picking-up the tab

Published 10:26 pm Friday, May 13, 2011

While the recovery effort remains in full force from the April 16 tornadoes that swept across the state, including the Roanoke-Chowan area, additional financial assistance is being made available.

N.C. Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell announced earlier this week that local governments and certain non-profit organizations are now eligible for federal funds to recover more of the costs for rebuilding and recovering after the April 16 tornadoes.

In addition to debris removal and emergency protective services, 18 counties can expect federal funds to cover 75 percent of the cost of storm-related repairs to roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings, public parks and recreational facilities, as well as restoration of power, water and sewer systems. State funds are expected to cover the remaining cost.

According to Hertford County Assistant Manager John P. Rankins Jr., FEMA will reimburse the county $11,141.20.

“(Hertford County Emergency Management Director) Chris (Smith) and I met with FEMA on Thursday morning,” Rankins said. “We went over all the money we expended as a result of the tornado and came up with a dollar amount based on what FEMA said we were eligible to recover.”

The county is eligible to recoup the money they expended for labor, equipment operation, contracts and direct administrative costs.

Additionally, Rankins said FEMA will pay the $2,000 insurance co-pay the county was obligated to cover due to damage to two Hertford County Sheriff’s Office vehicles.

Rankins said those county-owned vehicles were parked in the residential driveways of off-duty deputies, each residing in the Harrellsville area. Both vehicles suffered hail damage.

The $2,000 is in addition to the $11,141.20.

Bertie County Emergency Management Director Rickey Freeman said he is still working to come up with a final number to present to FEMA for reimbursement.

“Because FEMA has increased the category of reimbursement, we’re looking into what we’re eligible to recover,” Freeman said. “The biggest thing we invested in was the time we spent on emergency response.”

Freeman said he was hoping for an answer from FEMA next week as to the amount the agency will reimburse Bertie County local government.

Meanwhile, FEMA has added Tyrrell County to the federal disaster declaration, enabling survivors from that county to apply for state and federal financial assistance to recover from the storm. The latest declaration means that residents in 19 counties in central and eastern North Carolina may be eligible for assistance.

The federal declaration makes available low-interest loans or grants to storm victims to help them repair their homes and businesses. Counties previously designated are Bertie, Bladen, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wake and Wilson. Residents and business owners in the declared counties can apply for low-interest federal loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration in the following amounts:

Homeowners – up to $240,000 to repair or replace their homes and some personal belongings

Renters – up to $40,000 to replace personal belongings

Business Owners – up to $2 million for business property losses

Any who do not qualify for loans may be eligible for an individual assistance grant from FEMA to help repair and replace personal property.

Individuals can register for disaster assistance with FEMA by going online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Registration deadline is June 20, so applicants are encouraged to apply now.

In-person help is available at any of the 11 Disaster Recovery Centers. Centers are open in Bertie, Bladen, Cumberland, Greene, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson and Wake counties. The Bertie DRC, located at the Colerain Community Building, also serves Hertford County residents that suffered property damage due to the tornado.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, North Carolina Division of Emergency Management and other agencies are available to explain assistance programs and help survivors apply for disaster aid. Recovery specialists also help disaster survivors get in touch with other programs that may be able to help.

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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