• 59°

IA approved for Hertford County

WINTON – Weeks of effort local and state officials have finally paid off for Hertford County homeowners, business owners and renters suffering property damage from Hurricane Matthew.

Governor Pat McCrory announced Tuesday that a request for federal disaster assistance to help individuals in Hertford County recover from Hurricane Matthew has been approved.

“This additional assistance for Hertford County will help the people in these affected communities begin to recover and rebuild,” said Governor McCrory. “We will continue to work with towns, cities and counties across North Carolina to provide any and all assistance necessary to recover from Hurricane Matthew.”

Last week, Hertford County was approved for federal public assistance to help support recovery efforts of local governments and non-profits.

This latest approval means individuals are now also eligible to apply for assistance from FEMA. This type of financial disaster assistance are grants that do not have to be repaid. FEMA assistance is non-taxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.

Eligible storm damage and losses from the hurricane and flooding must have occurred beginning Oct. 4.

If you are a survivor, you are encouraged to register with FEMA as soon as possible, even if you have insurance. FEMA is unable to duplicate insurance payments. However, if you are underinsured, you may still receive help after your insurance claims have been settled.

Hertford County Manager Loria Williams praised the efforts of Chris Smith, the county’s Emergency Management Director, in his quest to have the county declared for Individual Assistance (IA).

“Chris was extremely diligent in keeping officials at the state level knowledgeable that we had a dire need here in Hertford County, and we had numbers (those impacted by the storm) sufficient to meet the threshold for Individual Assistance from FEMA,” said Williams.

She added that the majority of those impacted locally by the storm were either elderly, low income, or both.

“Those citizens have no means to recover from the damage inflicted by this hurricane,” she stressed. “Chris held true to the needs of our citizens, and he made himself available any time that state or federal officials came in to assess the damage.

“The hard part (receiving the IA declaration) is over; now we have to concentrate our full attention to getting the word out to our citizens that help is on the way to assist them in recovery and getting back on their feet,” Williams added.

Smith, who met with FEMA officials yesterday (Wednesday), said there were over 100 properties impacted by the hurricane in Hertford County and that the damage ranged from minor to severe.

It is unknown at this time if FEMA will open an IA office in Hertford County, like they have in neighboring Bertie County. However, Nate Custer, FEMA Media Relations Specialist, said Hertford County residents seeking IA can apply at FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Center (DRC), located inside the Bertie County Senior Center at 103 West School Street in Windsor. That DRC is open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Custer noted that residents of FEMA declared counties for IA who suffered losses and damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew can receive help applying for federal assistance, learn about the types of assistance available, the appeals process and get updates regarding their applications at any of the DRCs currently in operation.

“Anyone who lives in one of the 38 declared counties, that now includes Hertford County, in North Carolina can visit any DRC. They are not limited to just a DRC which may be in their home county,” Custer stressed.”

He added, “If Hertford County citizens have not registered before going to a DRC they can do the registration at the DRC. But there is no requirement that anyone has to visit a DRC in order to be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for a FEMA grant.”

All DRCs are staffed with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, North Carolina Emergency Management and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

If you have phone and/or internet access, you may register in one of the following ways:

Online at DisasterAssistance.gov;

Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. It is the same number if you use 711 or Video Relay Service;

Call 800-462-7585 if you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and you use a TTY; or

Download the FEMA Mobile App and apply.

Survivors requiring a reasonable accommodation such as American Sign Language interpreting, Braille large print, etc. while visiting a disaster recovery center may call the Helpline number for support. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Help is available in most languages, and information on the registration process is available in ASL at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/111546.

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.

email author More by Cal