Individual Assistance approved

Published 9:12 am Tuesday, September 6, 2011

For those suffering personal property damage during Hurricane Irene, help is on the way.

On Sunday, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue placed 15 additional counties on the federal disaster list, bringing the total to 33 counties that have been approved for individual assistance. The new additions include the entire Roanoke-Chowan area (Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton).

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides two types of assistance. Individual assistance aids families and businesses, while public assistance is for county and municipal government entities to assist in covering the expenses they incurred before, during and after the storm.

In the R-C area, preliminary numbers have been released for Bertie and Hertford counties in regards to personal property damage. As of Sept. 2, that figure was $640,859 in Hertford County following a damage assessment performed by Paul Vaughan, Sylvia Anderson, Sandy Brock, Crystal Askew and Gay Sumner. Bertie’s damage was higher (estimated at near $1 million). There, three structures were totally destroyed; 14 suffered major damage and 38 others had minor damage.

Gov. Bev Perdue said preliminary damage assessments have topped $400 million for losses from Hurricane Irene.  Uninsured or underinsured home and business damages are estimated at more than $40 million now and local government costs exceed $45 million. Agricultural losses are estimated at $340 million. These numbers could continue to change as teams on the ground continue to assess damages from the hurricane.

“We have moved quickly to provide every bit of assistance possible for the families, businesses and farms that were hit by Hurricane Irene,” Gov. Perdue said. “We knew the financial toll would be large, but our determination to help victims of the storm recover is even bigger.”

In a letter sent Friday to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack, Perdue requested an expedited major disaster declaration for 43 counties in Eastern North Carolina.  Perdue urged that, without help, many producers will go out of business, and the economic ripple effect will be substantial, resulting in thousands of additional lost jobs.

Preliminary agricultural loss estimates reported to state emergency management top $320 million, with damages to corn, cotton, peanuts, sweet potatoes, poultry, swine and tobacco, and farm buildings, machinery and equipment.  U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance would provide low-interest loans and other federal assistance.

“As you saw, Hurricane Irene devastated agriculture in our eastern counties,” Perdue stated in her letter.  “Extreme drought had already withered crops and delayed harvests, resulting in even greater hurricane damage that might otherwise have occurred.  We anticipate losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and we appreciate your willingness to assist with the recovery.”

In the R-C area, Bertie is looking at more than $23 million in agricultural losses; Hertford County farmers suffered $14.55 million in damages and Gates County is reporting $1.5 million. No numbers were available from Northampton County.

The 43 counties in which Gov. Perdue is seeking a major disaster declaration for agriculture include all four in the R-C area as well as Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Franklin, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.

Gov. Perdue also announced that a temporary plan has been developed to return traffic to all of NC 12 on the Outer Banks. The plan involves the placement of a temporary bridge and will allow traffic to flow in less than one month.  The governor has secured federal funding to cover the repair costs, which are estimated at $10 million.  The N.C. Department of Transportation is working with state and federal partners to develop a long-term plan as soon as possible.

On Thursday, the governor signed an executive order that will make it easier for farmers and others cleaning up storm debris to dispose of it by burning under certain circumstances.  Debris should be separated into separate piles for vegetation (trees, braches, limbs); household trash (garbage, paper, food, etc.) and other materials (building matter, carpets, furniture, etc.)  It is illegal to burn debris if public pickup is available.  Homeowners can burn yard trimmings – excluding stumps and logs more than six inches in diameter – if it’s allowed under local ordinances, no public pickup is available and it does not cause a public nuisance.  For more information go to

Those who want to help hurricane survivors can donate cash to the N.C. Disaster Relief Fund by logging on to Emergency management officials recommended cash contributions over donated goods because it provides local officials with more flexibility to meet the precise needs of the storm survivors and also helps the local economy recover. The Disaster Relief Fund accepts monetary donations and is managed by the governor’s office in partnership with the United Way of North Carolina.  Donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of donated funds will go to survivors.

The governor’s toll-free emergency information bilingual hotline remains open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. providing callers with information on what to do to begin recovering from the storm. English and Spanish-speaking people should call 1-888-835-9966. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people may call 711 (Relay N.C.).

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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