FEMA arrives

Published 10:25 am Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WINDSOR – Federal help has arrived.

FEMA officials have set-up shop in Bertie County to offer financial assistance and other federally funded programs to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew.

County citizens and business owners in need of assistance are encouraged to stop by the Bertie Senior Center, located at 103 West School Street in Windsor. Hours are 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 12 noon until 7 p.m. on Saturday; and Sunday from 12 noon until 5 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 30 is FEMA’s last day in Bertie County.

FEMA officials are encouraging those not able to immediately visit their local office in Windsor or do not have Internet availability that they can call, toll-free, 1-800-621-3362 and register.

“Residents of Bertie County don’t have to know how to use a computer in order to be registered with FEMA and, by so doing, be considered for possible federal assistance,” said Nate Custer, FEMA Media Relations Specialist. “They can contact us by that toll-free number.”

“FEMA has an extensive list of offerings,” said Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer.

Sauer said many Bertie County citizens and business owners had already registered online with FEMA for assistance and have met with officials from that federal agency as early as last week.

“Through our (Board of Commissioners) Chairman John Trent and (Windsor) Mayor Jim Hoggard, we were able to convince FEMA to open a disaster recovery assistance location here in our county,” Sauer said. “We feel it is critical for FEMA to meet each individual or business owner face-to-face and walk them through the registration process, an effort that allows that individual or business owner to get in FEMA’s database. Those face-to-face meetings are very helpful to those without access to computers, especially our elderly citizens.”

A small sample of the aid that FEMA can offer includes temporary housing assistance, structural repair assistance and, in some cases, structural replacement assistance.

“FEMA also offers assistance for workers who were or continue to be displaced from their place of employment,” Sauer noted. “We had many instances here in our county where businesses flooded and were forced to close to make repairs. That meant their employees were out of work and without a paycheck, but still those employees had bills to pay. FEMA can help with that.”

Sauer said there was some confusion among Bertie residents and business owners whose property is not located in the county’s typical flood zones.

“We had water this time around that we’ve never seen before, even during Hurricane Floyd back in 1999,” Sauer said. “Everyone in our county who suffered damage from Hurricane Matthew can apply to FEMA for assistance. They need not live in the normal areas that flood. Our county is in the federal disaster declaration, meaning those countywide are eligible for assistance, not just those in a flood zone.”

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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