Recovery aid continues

Published 1:04 am Sunday, November 6, 2011

The extensive damage which occurred in the Pamlico Beach area generated mountains of debris. FEMA works with the state to help fund debris removal on state roads. (Photo by Marilee Caliendo/FEMA)

For some Beaufort County residents, thoughts of Hurricane Irene have all but faded from their minds, but that’s not so for other Beaufort County residents whose homes and businesses were damaged by the hurricane.
The deadline for these people to apply for disaster assistance to help repair or rebuild their homes and business locations is Nov. 30. The same deadline applies to renters seeking assistance because they lost their places to live and personal property as a result of the hurricane.
Although storm victims are encouraged to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency to register for disaster-related assistance, FEMA refers many victims to the U.S. Small Business Administration for some storm-related assistance.
As of Oct. 24, the SBA had issued 1,681 disaster home-loan applications in Beaufort County, with 430 of them returned and 103 approved. SBA has issued 464 business-loan applications, with 51 of them returned and eight being approved.
As of Oct. 24, SBA has approved $4,471,000 for home loans and $595,800 in Beaufort County, for a total of $5,066,800 in disaster-related loans.
“I would describe the activity we’ve seen in Beaufort County to be as expected. There has been a significant outreach since the hurricane during the last two months by FEMA and the SBA to inform everyone in the county how to apply for disaster assistance; town-hall meetings have helped get the word out, too,” wrote William Koontz, an SBA spokesman, in an email to the Washington Daily News. “Beaufort County was one of the hardest hit counties in North Carolina, and only Dare and Pamlico counties have seen more dollars in disaster loan approvals than Beaufort with $6.6M and $6M, respectively. As for our expectations, we can never say ahead of time exactly how many victims will apply for SBA assistance — it always varies based on the demographics and economics of the area and region of the country, and by how many residents and business have insurance, especially flood insurance.”
Other than assistance provided to homeowners and renters, there is another form of assistance.
Working-capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster are available, according to FEMA/SBA emails. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster-recovery period. Economic injury disaster loans are available only to entities and their owners who cannot provide for their own recovery from nongovernment sources, as determined by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The deadline to apply for an economic-injury disaster loan is May 31, 2012.
Not all applicants receive the monetary assistance they seek.
“Of the applications we issued (2,145) to people in the county who registered with FEMA, 22% of the applications have been submitted to SBA (481) so far — this is a typical ‘return’ ratio, or perhaps a little higher than in similar counties in other states. Of the 481 applications received to date, 23% have been approved so far. This is a typical approval rate in today’s economic times — perhaps even a little higher than I would have estimated beforehand,” Koontz wrote in his email. “Almost all of those who applied and were found to be ineligible for an SBA disaster loan (typically due to unsatisfactory credit and lack of repayment ability) were referred back to FEMA to be considered for additional FEMA grants.”
In Beaufort County, the FEMA/SBA disaster center is at the Mid-Atlantic Safety Council, 2871 U.S. Highway 17 South, Chocowinity.
Although the deadline to apply for disaster unemployment assistance was Oct. 30, the Washington office of the N.C. Employment Security Commission continues to accept such applications and forward them to the ESC offices in Raleigh, where they are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, said Patrick Oswalt, manager of the Washington ESC office. Oswalt said there many be some people who are eligible for such assistance but are not aware such help is available to them.
Benefits are available to individuals who lost work in certain counties affected by the hurricane. Those who may apply include self-employed persons, farmers, ranch owners and others not usually covered under regular unemployment insurance programs.

What you need to know
• If you are a homeowner or renter, FEMA may refer you to SBA. SBA disaster loans are the primary source of money to pay for repair or replacement costs not fully covered by insurance or other compensation.
• SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations.
• A homeowner may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace his or her primary residence.
• Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 each to replace personal property.
• A business may borrow up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury.
• SBA offers low-interest working capital loans (called economic injury disaster loans) to small businesses and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes having difficulty meeting obligations as a result of the disaster.

What you need to do
• Begin by registering with FEMA, if you haven’t already done so, call 1-800-621-3362.
• Homeowners and renters should submit their SBA disaster loan applications, even if they are not sure if they will need or want a loan. If SBA cannot approve your application, in most cases it refers you to FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program for possible additional assistance.

Three ways to apply to SBA
after you register with FEMA

• Apply in person at any Disaster Recovery Center and receive personal, one-on-one help from an SBA representative.  For information or to find a location near you, call SBA at 1-800-659-2955, email, or visit our web site at and “Click here for information on SBA’s Disaster Recovery Centers.” Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 1-800-877 8339.
• You may apply online using SBA’s electronic loan application at
• You may complete a paper application and mail it to SBA at 14925 Kingsport Road, Ft. Worth,
Texas, 76155-2243.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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