Aid offered for displaced workers

Published 10:49 am Friday, September 9, 2011

RALEIGH — If Hurricane Irene interrupted your normal work schedule, those losses can be recouped under a program offered through the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.

Gov. Bev Perdue announced that Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is now available from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission in 24 additional counties, following storm damage from Hurricane Irene. This brings the total of eligible counties to 33.

Counties added to the list include all four in the Roanoke-Chowan area (Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton) as well as Brunswick, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Johnston, Jones, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Vance, Warren, Washington and Wilson.

More counties may be added later.

“We continue to aggressively press for assistance for those affected by the storm,” Gov. Perdue said in a press release. “By adding more counties, individuals and business owners in those areas can begin to receive aid to help get them back on their feet.”

DUA is funded entirely by the Federal Government.

The other affected counties are Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Halifax, Hyde, Lenoir, Pamlico and Tyrell.

ESC Chairman Lynn R. Holmes said that North Carolina workers in the 33 eligiblecounties who became unemployed as a direct result of Hurricane Irene impacting North Carolina may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits under the DUA program. Business owners affected by the storm may also qualify for benefits.

Workers or business owners meeting the following criteria may be eligible for benefits:

Individuals who are unemployed due to the disaster, and do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits;

Self-employed individuals and small business owners who lost income due to the disaster;

Individuals who were prevented from working due to an injury caused by the disaster;

Individuals who have become the major supplier of household income due to the disaster-related death or injury of the previous major supplier of household income;

Individuals who are unable to reach their job or self-employment location because they must travel through the affected area and were/are prevented from doing so by the disaster; and

Individuals who were to commence employment or self-employment but were prevented by the disaster.

There is no “waiting” week period to file for benefits. Affected workers can receive benefits dated back to the week ending September 3. Individuals may contact the ESC by calling 1-866-795-8877 to apply for DUA benefits. Individuals are encouraged to file as soon as possible. The deadline for filing an initial claim for DUA is 30 days from the date ESC begins taking claims (Sept. 6).