Disaster-relief aid may become available

Published 10:06 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

By Staff
Staff Reports
On Friday, Gov. Beverly Perdue requested the federal government to issue a disaster declaration for six counties in eastern North Carolina affected by recent heavy rains and subsequent flooding.
She also sought funds to help those counties recover from the storms and flooding.
The counties are Beaufort, Craven, Bertie, Onslow, Tyrrell and Hertford. In those counties 420 houses were badly damaged by the storms and flooding, including about 60 houses that were completely destroyed.
On Thursday, Washington departments that were involved with the flood response and recovery process met with teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state emergency response agencies and the federal Small Business Administration to assess damage to homes, businesses, roads, public buildings and other infrastructure.
Certain thresholds must be met before disaster-relief funds will be made available.
“The threshold as we understand it is $150,000 worth of damage in Beaufort County,” wrote City Manager James C. Smith in news release. “City directly related response and damage costs total about $50,000. In addition to this DOT has experienced significant damage to roads and culverts in the Voice of America area and on Old Bath Highway/Highland Drive. I’m sure the total will be in excess of $150,000. This does not include losses experienced by homeowners and renters. If the federal government grants that request, it clears the way for FEMA to provide low-interest loans or grants to storm victims and reimbursement of the City’s extraordinary expense.”
The city recommends people who have had damage from the storm follow these steps:
• People with storm damage to their homes, property, businesses or crops should first call their insurance agents to determine what type of coverage they have and discuss any claims.
Homeowners insurance policies typically do not cover damage caused by flooding. Those with flood insurance may file a claim with the National Flood Insurance Program by calling 1-800-638-6620 or visiting www.floodsmart.gov.
• Those who have no insurance should call the Beaufort County Emergency Management Office at 252-946-2046 to register.
• Those who have insurance coverage but are informed that they do not have enough coverage should also call the Emergency Management Office.
• The Small Business Administration also has assistance available to businesses.
If a business or private, nonprofit organization has suffered physical damage or a small business or private, nonprofit organization of any size has sustained economic injury after a disaster, it may be eligible for financial assistance from the Small Business Administration. If a business — regardless of size — is located in the declared disaster area, it may apply for a long-term, low-interest loan to repair or replace damaged property.
Even if the property was not damaged and you are a small-business owner or a private, nonprofit organization, you may apply for a working capital loan from the SBA to relieve the economic injury caused by the disaster.
Businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations may apply for a Physical Disaster Loan of up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged real estate, equipment, inventory and fixtures. The loan may be increased by as much as 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to protect the property against future disasters of the same type. These loans will cover uninsured or under-insured losses.
Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and certain private, nonprofit organizations of all sizes suffering substantial economic injury may be eligible for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of up to $2 million to meet necessary financial obligations — expenses the business would have paid if the disaster had not occurred.
The interest rate on both these loans will not exceed 4 percent if you do not have credit available elsewhere. Repayment can be up to 30 years, depending on the business’s ability to repay the loan. For businesses and nonprofit organizations with credit available elsewhere, the interest rate will not exceed 8 percent. SBA determines whether the applicant has credit available elsewhere.
Businesses may apply directly to the SBA for possible assistance. The SBA will send an inspector to estimate the cost of your damage once you have completed and returned your loan application.
Downloadable application forms are available at:
For information about SBA disaster-assistance for businesses, call 1-800-659-2955.