Assessments provide initial numbers on homes, businesses damaged

Published 7:04 pm Monday, September 24, 2018

While assessments remain ongoing throughout Beaufort County, initial damage reports from first responders in the Belhaven, Bath, Bunyon, Chocowinity, Sidney and Aurora-Richland areas show approximately 566 residential structures and 31 businesses as being impacted by Hurricane Florence. These numbers do not include the City of Washington, where assessments are still underway.

The first step in disaster assessment, these so-called “windshield surveys” were conducted by fire departments and other first responders late last week and over the course of the weekend.

“There are several phases of damage assessment, and the first piece we look at is simply termed a ‘windshield assessment’ or initial damage assessment,” Beaufort County Operations Chief of Fire/Emergency Management Chris Newkirk said. “Basically, that is someone going through the area and recording what they can see from their vehicles where they suspect damage to be.”

As Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel and other adjusters come into the area, Newkirk says that this provides a starting point to understand what parts of the county were most heavily impacted by the storm.

Since Friday, FEMA has had six disaster survivor assistance teams in place throughout the county, lending help to those in need. On Monday, a preliminary damage assessment team toured the county, specifically collecting information on damage suffered by municipalities and local infrastructure.

At some point this week, Newkirk anticipates that a team devoted to individual assistance will be setting up shop in Beaufort County at what is known as a Disaster Recovery Center. This will be the place where residents and business owners can go to discuss claims with FEMA representatives.

In the meantime, Newkirk says those who suffered damages should be in touch with their insurance providers and FEMA at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Registration is also available online at

“If you had damage as a result of Hurricane Florence, you need to be communicating with your homeowner’s or insurance provider first and then that FEMA number second,” Newkirk said. “What will happen with that FEMA number, is that’s basically a database, so as people call, it will save that information. Much like the initial damage assessments we’re collecting, that gives FEMA a starting point.”

In addition to the FEMA number, area residents are also reminded that a disaster relief hotline has been established at 252-495-6040. Those in need of assistance and those have resources and manpower to help are encouraged to call.