Local disaster aid tops $1.4 million

Published 8:36 am Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More than $44.6 million in state and federal aid has been approved to help speed recovery across the 38 North Carolina counties designated for individual assistance in the presidential disaster declaration following Hurricane Irene.

In the Roanoke-Chowan area, Bertie County leads the way with $480,262.50 in aid for individuals and households. FEMA has received a total of 643 applications from Bertie residents.

Hertford County (648 applications) has seen $468,692.20 earmarked for residents impacted by the Aug. 27 storm.

Applications for aid are the highest locally in Northampton County (1,050) where $403,583.08 in federal/state aid has been approved.

In Gates County, 131 applications have been filed and $56,165.57 dispersed in disaster aid.

More than 31,500 survivors have contacted FEMA for help or information regarding disaster assistance. Many people are seeking housing assistance from FEMA because their primary home has been damaged or destroyed. Other callers may be interested in disaster unemployment assistance, crisis counseling or legal aid.

Survivors who do not need FEMA disaster assistance or have additional needs are referred to partner agencies such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Small Business Administration.

The following is a snapshot of the disaster recovery effort:

8,257 households have received FEMA grants to help pay for temporary housing and/or replace personal property;

$20.2 million approved for housing grants, including short-term rental assistance and home repair costs;

$4.3 million approved to cover other essential disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses and lost personal possessions;

$20 million in low-interest disaster loans approved by the SBA;

23,172 home inspections completed; and

15,216 visits to disaster recovery centers by people affected by the disaster.

No matter the degree of loss or insurance coverage, survivors are urged to apply for help. They can use any of the following methods:

By phone, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Assistance is available in most languages. People who have a speech disability or are deaf or hard of hearing may call (TTY) 800-462-7585.

Online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

Go to m.fema.gov with a tablet or smartphone.

Businesses that need help may contact the Small Business Administration directly at the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339) or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov or disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

The deadline for residents affected by Hurricane Irene to register for FEMA assistance or for an SBA loan is Monday, Oct. 31.

Additionally, North Carolina survivors of Hurricane Irene with questions about flood insurance claims can now find help by calling a new toll-free hotline.

The Hurricane Irene Flood Insurance Claims Hotline is open to help North Carolina residents in the 38 counties included in the presidential disaster declaration following Hurricane Irene. The hotline number is 855-336-2002.

The hotline is staffed by flood insurance claims specialists from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday through Nov. 23.

Staffers will be able to answer questions about the flood insurance claim process, such as how to work with a flood insurance adjuster or how to check on the status of a settlement. Staffers can also offer guidance on the steps necessary to settle a claim.

When flood insurance policy holders call, they should have on hand the following information: name of insurance company, flood insurance policy number, name and telephone number of the insurance agent, and name and telephone number of the insurance adjuster.

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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