FEMA Matthew aid continuing to rise

By: By Chrysta Carroll - ccarroll@civitasmedia.com

Around 160 days post-Matthew, FEMA continues to assist Bladen County residents with recovery.

Though the registration period for new storm-related claims closed in January for residents in the Mother County, the total amount of assistance provided by FEMA rises in small increments as applicants provide necessary information to the disaster arm of the federal government.

“Sometimes there are appeals or people are waiting for the case while it’s temporarily set aside — if they’ve been denied but come back with receipts or documentation proving they’re eligible for more assistance,” said FEMA Media Relations Manager Ray Perez. “In the last week, the dollar total went up $3,000 (for Bladen County), but it doesn’t change very much at this point.”

FEMA extended the deadline for its Temporary Sheltering Assistance program, which provides hotel lodging for family or individual survivors, to March 18. While some Bladen County residents displaced by Hurricane Matthew may still be awaiting return to their homes, Perez said no one in Bladen County is eligible for the Temporary Sheltering Assistance program, and he doesn’t expect that to change. Bladen County residents still looking for rental housing may use asd.fema.gov/inter/hportal/home.htm or nchousingsearch.org/ to help find rental resources. Property providers can help by logging in to add or update listings, or by calling 877-428-8844.

Throughout North Carolina, 584 people remain in hotels under the TSA program. Counties still eligible include Columbus, Cumberland, Dare, Edgecombe, Johnston, Lenoir, Pitt, Robeson, Wayne, and Wilson.

To date, 81,948 registrations have yielded $95 million in aid from FEMA. The small business arm of the organization has kept right in step, also approving $95 million in loans for businesses affected by the disaster.

FEMA released the following information for special groups:

— Applicants with questions, updates or issues should call the FEMA help line at 800-621- 3362, for voice, 711 and Video Relay Service. Those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability may use a TTY to call 800-462-7585.

— To contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center, call 800-659-2955.

— Survivors who lived in a public housing authority unit or a subsidized unit (Section 8), or who have a Housing Choice Voucher and were impacted by Hurricane Matthew should contact their local housing authority. Additional questions may be directed to HUD by calling 336-851-8058 or by emailing hudhelping@hud.gov.

— Survivors who are homeowners and need help or have questions about foreclosure, foreclosure prevention or the next steps may contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency by calling 800-569-4287. Survivors concerned about housing discrimination after the disaster may contact HUD at 800-669-9777 or 888-560-8913.

— FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program provides assistance to state, tribal and local governments and certain types of private nonprofit organizations to help communities quickly respond to and recover from the effects of Hurricane Matthew. The PA Program, which is administered by North Carolina Emergency Management, provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly-owned facilities and the facilities of certain private nonprofit organizations. The PA Program also encourages protecting these damaged facilities from future events by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures.

— Owners of meat- and poultry-producing businesses who have questions or concerns may contact the FSIS Small Plant Help Desk by phone at 877-374-7435 or by email at infosource@fsis.usda.gov

— Legal Aid of North Carolina provides temporary legal assistance to disaster survivors at no charge. Survivors with questions can call 866-219-5262.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Chrysta Carroll