FEMA funds flowing for storm victims

Published 7:25 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Individual assistance for victims of Hurricane Florence is flowing.

As of Tuesday, at least $47,282.30 had been approved for 13 people, with that amount expected to increase as more people register for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Of that $47,282.30, FEMA approved $39,778.36 for housing assistance and $7,503.94 for other-needs assistance. Although those amounts are approved, but not necessarily immediately disbursed.

FEMA spokesman John Mills said it’s premature for FEMA to provide information about how much aid has been approved for each of the state’s 100 counties.

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.

Storm victims in the following counties are eligible for individual assistance: Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Jones, Lenoir, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Robeson, Sampson and Wayne. Beaufort County residents calling the Beaufort County Office of Emergency Services to inquire about FEMA individual assistance are being told to call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.

Approved uses of FEMA aid include the following:

  • home repairs (e.g., structure, water, septic and sewage systems);
  • rental assistance for a different place to live temporarily;
  • repair or replacement of a flooded essential vehicle;
  • medical care for an injury caused by the disaster;
  • repair, cleaning or replacement of clothing or specialized tools;
  • necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies);
  • moving and storage expenses related to the disaster;
  • child care and funeral expenses.

“Your insurance is your first line of defense, if you will, in terms of recovery. People should go ahead and begin their recovery. They should file their insurance claims. Some people may have homeowners insurance and flood insurance, and you’d want to file for both if you’ve got both. So, contact your insurance company and file those claims,” Mill said.

Mills suggest victims document damage to their residences and belongings by taking photographs, making videos and making an itemized list of their damages and losses.

Storm victims who receive disaster-recovery assistance should make smart choices when it comes to spending they received, according to FEMA.

Although FEMA is approving tax-free aid to help Florence victims recover, the agency urges recipients to spend the money only on disaster-related expenses. The FEMA grant does not have to be paid back, according to a FEMA news release.

FEMA grants should not be used for normal living expenses such as food, utilities or medical and dental care not related to the disaster. Those funds should not be used for travel, entertainment or other discretionary expenses not disaster-related, according to FEMA.

“FEMA also encourages you to keep your receipts for three years to show how the funds were spent. After every major disaster FEMA conducts audits of disaster assistance payments to ensure taxpayer dollars were properly provided by the agency and appropriately used by recipients. It’s important to remember that federal law prohibits duplicating disaster assistance from other sources,” according to the release.

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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