FEMA adds aid

Published 10:59 am Friday, September 16, 2011

Roanoke-Chowan area residents impacted by Hurricane Irene three weeks ago can take advantage of additional resources offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

While FEMA officials remain engaged in the process of offering financial aid and advice to those that suffered property damage from Irene’s wind and rain, the federal agency is making disaster unemployment assistance and legal services available to those affected by the storm.

According to information provided by FEMA spokesperson William Lindsey, disaster unemployment benefits are available to individuals who lost work within any of the counties declared as disaster areas. Those counties include all in the R-C area (Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton).  Those who may apply include self-employed persons, farm and ranch owners and others not usually covered under regular unemployment insurance programs.  Call 866-795-8877 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, to learn more about this program.

The North Carolina Employment Security Commission can provide unemployment benefits dating back to Sept. 3. Workers and business owners who meet the following criteria may be eligible:

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 are unable to get to work because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster;

Individuals who were to begin work, but were prevented by the disaster; and

Individuals who became the major supplier of income for a household because of the death or injury of the previous major wage earner.

Learn more about disaster unemployment assistance and apply for benefits by calling the NCESC (1-866-795-8877).   The deadline to apply varies by county:

Sept. 30 – Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico and Tyrrell counties;

Oct. 3 – Halifax and Lenoir counties;

Oct. 5 – Bertie, Brunswick, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Hertford, Johnston, Jones, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Vance, Warren, Washington and Wilson counties; and

Oct. 11 – Pender and Wayne counties.

Lindsey said FEMA is also offering legal assistance for those who can’t afford an attorney and who run into a legal snag due to the hurricane in any of the counties listed above. Call 800-662-7407 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Ask for Disaster Legal Services and a volunteer attorney will call back in 48 to72 hours.

Disaster-related legal assistance is offered by the North Carolina Bar Association.  The Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association is providing volunteer attorneys to help with legal complications that arise from the hurricane. Examples include:

Advice regarding landlord/tenant issues;

Replacement of lost legal documents;

Advice about contracts disrupted by the hurricane; and

Help with insurance disputes and other legal complications caused by the disaster.

To learn about other disaster assistance programs, visit a disaster recovery center or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585.  Find disaster recovery centers through the Hurricane Irene tab at www.nccrimecontrol.org or the FEMA locator at www.fema.gov/drclocator.

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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