Irene affecting workers

Published 12:34 am Thursday, September 22, 2011

Washington Yacht & Country Club during Hurricane Irene. (WDN File Photo/Cecilia Prokos)

Perhaps 30 to 60 Beaufort County residents have filed disaster-related unemployment claims in the weeks since Hurricane Irene, said Pat Oswalt, manager in the Washington office of the N.C. Employment Security Commission.

“Most of our disaster unemployment claims have come out of Hyde County,” Oswalt said Wednesday. “We haven’t had that many in Beaufort (County). We’ve had a few up around the Pamlico Beach area.”

The majority of the Pamlico Beach claims were from commercial fishermen affected by the storm, he said.

A few farmers have also signed up for disaster-tied unemployment, he said.

Oswalt’s numbers reflect only those claims filed with the local office.

Residents also may register by calling a toll-free number linking them with ESC officials in Raleigh.

Most of the local registrants have been self-employed, Oswalt explained.

“Disaster unemployment is basically for those folks who are not under covered unemployment,” he said. “Covered unemployment would be like payrolls.”

Disaster unemployment claims can be filed once a disaster declaration is issued for a community, he said.

The intention of this assistance is to help businesses get back on their feet, Oswalt said.

An ESC news release shows that among employees or business owners eligible for disaster unemployment are those who are unemployed because of the hurricane “and don’t qualify for regular unemployment insurance,” self-employed and small business owners who lost income because of the storm and workers who were unable to reach their jobs because of Irene.

Disaster unemployment “is funded entirely by the Federal Government,” the release reads.

People who have questions about this assistance may call the ESC at 1-866-795-8877.

Workers who aren’t self-employed but whose jobs were affected by the hurricane begin their path to help by applying for regular unemployment, Oswalt said.

“We have not had very much of that,” he shared.

One Washington-area employer hit by the storm was the Washington Yacht & Country Club, located along Broad Creek at the east end of River Road.

“We had almost 4 inches of water  in the clubhouse pro shop and dining area, and our dockmaster’s house had 8 inches of water in it,” said Daniel Bergevin, president of the WYCC board.

The club also sustained damage to its docks, and 68 felled trees littered the golf course after Irene’s passage.

Following the storm on Aug. 27, the 642-member club was closed for necessary repairs, but it reopened this past Saturday.

“We are open,” Bergevin said. “The remodel of what we call our 19th Hole and dining area is complete.”

Remodeling is ongoing in the pro shop, the dockmaster’s house and the men’s and ladies’ locker rooms, he said.

The docks have had a temporary fix, but, “They’ll need some more work done in the future,” he said.

Some trees have been removed from the golf course, but the club is still taking bids on the full tree removal, Bergevin related.

Saturday was the first full day back at work for the wait and kitchen staff, he said.

“We were fortunate in the sense that not all of our employees had to be without work,” he said, adding some of the club’s 42 workers were put into service cleaning up the docks and golf course.

“We’re just thankful to all of our employees and staff that came in and volunteered their time to help get the work going,” Bergevin stated, also expressing thanks to Stocks & Taylor Construction of Washington for its work at the club.