FEMA denies request for individual assistance

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, October 10, 2019

In a letter dated Oct. 8, the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied North Carolina’s request for a disaster declaration for individual assistance as a result of Hurricane Dorian.

The letter states, “it has been determined that the impact to the individuals and households from this event is not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance . . .” [See letter below.]

On Sept. 21, Gov. Roy Cooper requested individual assistance for four counties: Hyde, Dare, Carteret and New Hanover.

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“This is disappointing news for families who lost everything in Hurricane Dorian and still need help. The Governor will continue to work with our federal and state partners and North Carolina’s congressional delegation to determine a path forward to deliver assistance to those who need it,” said Ford Porter, deputy communications director in the governor’s office.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Hyde County distributed a media release reporting, “Hyde County officials are deeply disappointed with this decision and are currently working with our state and federal partners to discuss all available options moving forward.”

Dare County commissioner Danny Couch, who represents Hatteras Island, said, “This is disappointing from the standpoint of homeless people whose homes must be rebuilt. There’re no short cuts here when it comes to hurricane recovery. One of the most honorable things local, state and federal governments can do is help citizens get their lives back together. It’s critical that this happen.”

The governor’s letter requesting a major disaster declaration for individual assistance addressed such factors as the fiscal capacity, that many damaged structures have no insurance coverage and a population profile with age distribution, poverty level and pre-disaster unemployment.

The letter detailed the impact to community infrastructure citing power outages, water line breaks, communication outages and NC 12 problems. The letter said the hurricane was directly or indirectly related to three deaths.

In making the request for a major declaration, the governor’s Sept. 21 letter specifically requested the following programs: Individuals and Households Program (IHP), the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Assistance Loans, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Legal Services, Disaster Unemployment Assistance and the Disaster Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programs.

On Wednesday, staff members of U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis met with representatives of North Carolina Emergency Management and Gov. Cooper’s office.

On Thursday, the two senators issued a statement saying “Thankfully, the state has assured us they have adequate funds to cover the needs in Carteret, Dare, Hyde, and New Hanover counties. We urge the governor not to draw this process out by filing an appeal. Instead, he should activate available state programs that can get necessary funding to impacted areas without delay.”

The senators’ entire statement follows at the end of this article.

On Oct. 4, the state did receive a major disaster declaration for public assistance for 14 counties including Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell and 10 other counties. Public assistance provides reimbursement to local governments for costs of debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities, like Cape Hatteras Secondary and Ocracoke School.

In the Hyde County media release, Ocracoke residents are encouraged to visit the Joint Recovery Center in the Ocracoke Variety Store parking lot and fill out an intake form so the county can develop a list of the short term and long term needs of the island community.

The Joint Recovery Center has representatives from multiple agencies to help with the following: Housing Assistance, Housing Repair, Medical Needs, Unemployment Assistance or help finding Employees for Businesses, Business Recovery, Insurance Claims, Mold Remediation, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Utility Payment Assistance and the Small Business Administration, which is coming soon, and any other unmet needs.

The Joint Recovery Center’s hours of operation will be changing on Friday, Oct. 11. Friday’s hours will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The center will be closed over the weekend. Moving forward, the hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Joint Recovery Center can be reached by phone at 984-789-2262 or 984-233-3034.

Burr, Tillis: N.C. should activate state relief programs to help Hurricane Dorian victims

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today (Thursday, October 10), Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) issued the following statement on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) response to North Carolina’s request for individual assistance following Hurricane Dorian:

“Yesterday, following FEMA’s announcement that four North Carolina counties do not qualify for individual assistance, our offices met with representatives from N.C. Emergency Management and Governor Cooper’s office to discuss next steps. In that meeting, Governor Cooper’s staff acknowledged they knew when they submitted their request that there was a strong likelihood it would be denied. They also confirmed that FEMA’s decision was based on data from the counties collected in partnership with the state.

“We strongly support requesting any potential federal aid, but misleading North Carolinians about why FEMA made their decision does a gross disservice to the men, women, and families who are still rebuilding their lives. Thankfully, the state has assured us they have adequate funds to cover the needs in Carteret, Dare, Hyde, and New Hanover counties. We urge the governor not to draw this process out by filing an appeal. Instead, he should activate available state programs that can get necessary funding to impacted areas without delay.”

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