Federal assistance to storm victims growing

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Nearly $40 million in overall federal assistance has been disbursed in North Carolina, as of Monday, in the wake of Hurricane Matthew and subsequent flooding, according to a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Nathan Custer, a FEMA media specialist, said that by Monday evening 40,728 registrations had been received by FEMA. The agency has 842 people deployed to North Carolina, including 538 inspectors in the field. “These people inspect damaged homes of those who have registered with FEMA,” Custer wrote in an email.

“We have not generated any county-specific information yet,” said Mike Wade, a spokesman for the FEMA regional office in Atlanta, on Tuesday afternoon. We hope to have them, hopefully, maybe, sometime next week, at least as far as county breakdowns go.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly $22 million in individual and household program funding had been approved by the federal government, with the majority of that amount — about $17.3 million — earmarked for housing assistance, and a little more than $5.5 million allocated for other-needs assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that 5,206 applications for individual assistance had been approved by Tuesday afternoon.

Housing assistance provides money for disaster-related housing needs, while other-needs assistance provides funds for other disaster-related needs such as household furnishings, transportation and medical care.

For people who registered for assistance and received a decision letter from FEMA but disagree with it, there is an appeals process. First, read the letter carefully to determine why the decision was made. Second, contact FEMA (1-888-621-3362) for help filing an appeal or with questions about the decision process. Third, file a written appeal.

On Tuesday, Martin, Washington, Tyrrell and Craven counties were added to the list of 23 counties eligible for federal disaster assistance.

North Carolina Department of Public Safety emergency-response officials estimate the damage caused by Matthew and subsequent flooding at $1.5 billion, but that figure could go higher because officials continue to assess storm-related damage.

Meanwhile, Food and Nutrition Services beneficiaries in eastern North Carolina who lost food because of Hurricane Matthew have an additional 10 days to request replacement benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the period for Food and Nutrition Services recipients to request replacement benefits to Oct. 28 if they experienced food losses that can be attributed to the hurricane.


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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