Storm victims don’t see assistance for variety of reasons

Published 5:41 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Some Beaufort County residents and businesses might not be registering for assistance in the wake of Hurricane Matthew and subsequent flooding for various reasons, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Some disaster victims don’t register for assistance for a variety reasons, including misunderstandings, rumors and misconceptions, thereby missing out on financial and other disaster assistance. FEMA urges homeowners, business owners and renters to register for assistance before it is too late.

According to FEMA, there are two common misconceptions regarding registration for assistance. First, registering for disaster assistance with other agencies or organizations registers you for FEMA disaster assistance. That is not the case. Second, have flood insurance with the National Flood Insurance Program registers you for disaster assistance. That is not true. It also does not disqualify you from applying for assistance. Flood-insurance claims are handled separately, and storm victims may find that they have uninsured losses.

Renters who have not registered may discover they may be eligible for federal disaster assistance and referrals to state agencies that may be able to help.

A disaster recovery center is open in Beaufort County at the Beaufort County Health Department, 1436 Highland Drive, Washington, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday. Representatives from FEMA, North Carolina Emergency Management and the U.S Small Business Administration will be at the center to assist people and businesses affected by Hurricane Matthew and subsequent flooding. The Beaufort County FEMA/State DRC is open to provide a place where you can apply for disaster assistance and get information about available state and federal assistance and other recovery information.

Even though a storm victim is not a business owner, the Small Business Administration might be a source of assistance.

“Next to insurance, SBA is the primary source of funds for real estate property repairs and replacing lost contents following a disaster. Obtaining a low-interest disaster loan may be the solution to your recovery needs,” reads a FEMA news release. “Returning the completed application also may enable you to qualify for additional FEMA disaster recovery assistance programs for other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses or funeral and burial costs. If SBA determines you cannot afford a loan, you may be considered for assistance from other organizations. There is no requirement to take out a loan if one is offered from SBA.”

By Wednesday, $69.6 million in individual and household program funding had been approved by the federal government, with the majority of that amount — about $50 million — earmarked for housing assistance, and about $19.7 million allocated for other-needs assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that 22,788 applications for individual assistance had been approved by Wednesday.

Homeowners, renters and business owners who suffered losses or damages caused by Matthew should call 1-800-621-3362 to register for assistance or go online at and register by downloading FEMA’s mobile app, according to a news release. For those who use 711 or Video Relay Service, the number is also 1-800-621-3362. For people using TTY, the number is 1-800-462-7585. These toll-free numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Operators are ready to assist people in multiple languages.


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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