Employers, employees dealing with effects of storm in various ways

Published 8:06 pm Monday, September 17, 2018

It’s too early to determine the exact effect Hurricane Florence had on businesses throughout Beaufort County, said Catherine Glover, executive director of the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce.

“A lot of businesses shut down on Wednesday and had not reopened as of today (Monday). Many businesses in Belhaven, Washington and throughout the county have lost about five days of income,” Glover said Monday. “That loss of income will be significant. … People need to realize that and go out and support these businesses.”

Glover suggested business owners contact the Small Business Administration to determine if they are eligible for recovery assistance. SBA has several assistance programs geared toward helping storm victims recover from physical and economic damages. (See SBA contact information at end of article).

Glenn Weatherington, co-owner of Down on Mainstreet, a downtown restaurant, is more worried about how his customers and other business owners weathered Florence than about how the storm affected the eatery’s bottom line. “Honestly, we were closed from Thursday until today (Monday). Luckily, for us, we were able to reopen. Our business is actually the last of our worries right now. We’re more concerned about everybody else in the community. We’re hoping everybody gets back on their feet and gets their businesses back open,” he said. “We’re fine here. I know we got floodwaters up here, but we did not get any in the building. We’ll get back to where we need to be shortly.”

Carryout by Chrislyn provided food— sandwiches, wraps, pasta salad and fruit — to Phoenix Search and Rescue and National Guard personnel Sunday.

Domino’s Pizza on John Small Avenue, to keep food from going to waste, provided free chicken wings to a group of roofers, according to Jesus Segura, store manager.

The store closed about6 p.m. Wednesday. “Thursday we came in. We had a bit of food left and we didn’t want it go to waste,” Segura said. “We actually had to give a bunch of free food away so it wouldn’t go to waste.”
The store was open from about 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, closed Friday and open from about noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. The store was open for normal hours Sunday, he said.

“We had some people working on roofs. We gave them some wings and stuff,” Segura said.

Not only are businesses dealing with income loss, so are many of their employees who are paid hourly wages.

Vox, a general-interest website, posted this article by Alexia Fernández Campbell on Friday afternoon: “In storm-affected areas, the people who are most stressed out right now are workers who make less than $20 an hour. Low-wage, unskilled workers are considered hourly workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law that governs workers’ pay.”

The site continued: “Under the FLSA, workers who get paid by the hour can get overtime pay, but they are not guaranteed a steady source of income. That’s because an employer only has to pay an hourly worker for the number of hours worked. It doesn’t matter if an employee can’t work because he or she is ill, or injured, or giving birth. If a business decides to shut down because of a snowstorm or hurricane, employees who were scheduled to work simply won’t get paid.”

(The link to the Vox article is www.vox.com/2018/9/14/17859976/hurricane-florence-workers-income)

Some people left unemployed as a result of Florence’s trek through North Carolina might find some relief.

The N.C. Division of Employment Security announced that the following counties have been ap­proved for Disaster Unemployment Assistance because of the effects of Florence: Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender. Additional counties may be added to the DUA avail­ability designation at a later date.

Individuals from these counties who are affected by the disaster, and are unable to continue working, must file an ap­plication for benefits by Oct. 17.

Workers who became unemployed as a direct result of the effects of Florence affecting North Carolina may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits under the DUA program. Business owners affected by the storm may also qualify for benefits.

Workers or business owners meeting the following criteria may be eligible for benefits:

  • Individuals who are unemployed due to the disaster, and do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Self-employed individuals and small business owners who lost income due to the disaster.
  • Individuals who were prevented from working due to an injury caused by the disaster.
  • Individuals who have become the major supplier of household income due to the disaster-related death or injury of the previous major supplier of household income.
  • Individuals who are unable to reach their jobs or self-employment locations, because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster.
  • Individuals who were to commence employment or self-employment, but were prevented from doing so by the disaster.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or download the Federal Emergency Management Agency mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362. Additional details on the locations of Disaster Recovery Centers and the loan application process can be obtained by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Individuals may contact DES by calling 1-866-795-8877 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.

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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