Hundreds seek help from FEMA

Published 12:45 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

By Monday afternoon, 248 people had passed through a temporary disaster recovery center set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

Located in Chocowinity, next to Woogie’s restaurant off U.S. Highway 17, the center’s staff also saw more than 100 people Tuesday, said Tom Giddings, a FEMA employee who’s managing the center.

As Giddings spoke, several people waited in chairs while others were being attended to by FEMA or other government workers.

This local FEMA office opened Friday afternoon.

Of the 248 people who had been seen by Monday, 204 had registered for housing assistance or had questions about housing assistance, said Marvin Davis, a FEMA spokesman.

And 199 people indicated they were interested in some form of hazard mitigation, like having their homes elevated to guard against future flooding, Davis said.

“It could even include elevating their home sometimes even by just a few feet will save them heartburn in the future,” he said.

Storm mitigation also could include rebuilding using good construction techniques like the installation of hurricane clips to tie rafters to walls and the laying of high-quality, wind-resistant shingles, he said.

The type of mitigation people request depends on what type of damage their homes sustained, Davis pointed out.

The damage could be related to high water, “which was widespread” in Beaufort County, or wind, he said.

Some residents of communities in Aurora, Pamlico County and elsewhere had to contend with high wind and water, Giddings said.

“It’s both,” he said, “flooding and roofs ripped off, trees falling on homes – a little bit of everything.”

People planning to visit the disaster recovery center are first asked to call FEMA and obtain an ID number, Giddings said. FEMA may be reached by calling 1-800-621-3362.

Those who don’t have home phone access may use phones located at the FEMA office. These phones may be used to call FEMA.

Applicants also may visit FEMA’s website,

The disaster recovery center is open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice, Davis said last week.