Irene aid remains available

Published 9:57 am Friday, January 27, 2012

RALEIGH – Despite the passage of six months, some North Carolinians are still struggling to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene.

Through a collaborative initiative, North Carolina Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working to help individuals and families still reeling from the impact of that storm. They have secured an additional $5 million in disaster assistance.

“For many North Carolinians, Irene has become a distant memory,” said state Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell. “But some families are still trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. Through this recovery outreach program we’ve been able to help more than 1,500 individuals or families with unmet needs from the disaster.”

Since early November, special recovery outreach teams have combed the 38 counties designated for disaster assistance. The teams, comprised of employees from North Carolina Emergency Management and FEMA, have provided advice and counseling on topics ranging from how to correctly fill out paperwork to helping survivors obtain assistance with their unmet needs caused by the disaster. Workers also have helped applicants with the appeal process, explaining letters they may have received from FEMA and assisting applicants with gathering the documentation needed for their recovery.

In some cases, workers helped families get food stamps, find local child or mental health services, or get volunteer labor to help repair damaged homes. They also have helped dozens of the families find clothing, furniture and appliances to replace what was destroyed by the flood waters.

To date, the state and FEMA have approved more than $75 million in grants and loans for individuals and families, including $5 million that is a direct result of the outreach initiative. That initiative netted survivors $3 million in FEMA grants, $1.7 million in U.S. Small Business Administration loans and an additional $195,000 in cash or in-kind donations from faith-based, non-profit or other charitable groups.

“We know there are survivors who still need our help,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Bolch. “This face-to-face initiative helps to ensure that those people are getting the maximum grants they are eligible to receive. We want to ensure that no stone is left unturned, because so many lost so much.”

Storm survivors who need assistance can call 1-866-812-3121 to speak to a member of North Carolina Emergency Management.