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Brunswick among local counties to receive public, individual FEMA assistance

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Brunswick County is among several local counties approved for public and individual assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Last week, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., announced FEMA public assistance was approved for Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin and Pender counties to assist with damages from Hurricane Irene late last month.

FEMA public assistance includes help for emergency work and repairs and replacements of damaged facilities, road systems and bridges, water control facilities, public utilities, parks and recreation and debris removal.

“Continuing to help our citizens and communities that were harmed or damaged from Hurricane Irene will continue to be a priority for us. I am grateful that FEMA acted quickly on this need for public assistance,” McIntyre said.

Then on Sunday, McIntyre announced individual disaster assistance was approved for Brunswick, Duplin and New Hanover counties.

Citizens in the three counties who suffered damages associated with Hurricane Irene are eligible for individual assistance through FEMA.

“This further assistance for those that had losses associated with Hurricane Irene is welcome news and I am grateful that FEMA approved this additional help for southeastern North Carolina. We will continue to do all that we can to help our homes and communities,” McIntyre said.

Brunswick County Emergency Services Director Anthony Marzano said the public assistance estimates for Brunswick County agencies was about $427,910.

“The two major things that go into that category are emergency protective measures by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and Brunswick County Emergency Services. It also includes some debris,” Marzano said.

For other non-county entities within Brunswick County, including municipalities, an estimated $707,000 was spent, which includes $426,000 for utility companies. Brunswick Electric Membership Corp. is included because it is a cooperative, Marzano explained.

The more than $1 million spent in public assistance in Brunswick County far exceeds the minimum threshold of $370,000 to quality for reimbursement.

“We’re way beyond the threshold, but we’ve also already been declared. It’s important to meet the threshold so that we can be considered for declaration. Due to how Hurricane Irene unfolded, the governor asked for a declaration in advance of the [hurricane], which is unusual but not unheard of in a disaster of this scope.

“Keep in mind damage in other parts of the state is significantly greater than here in Brunswick County,” he said.

FEMA registration

Individuals can register for assistance directly with FEMA. To register, individuals can call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585. People can also apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov. To apply via smartphone or tablet, use m.fema.gov. FEMA also has an application for Android phones, which can be downloaded at market.android.com/details?id=gov.fema.mobile.android.

Marzano said it’s important to call FEMA to report any loss or damage sustained during the storm.

“Even if you have already reported the damage to us on the damage hotline, whether it’s insured or not, whether they think it’s significant or not, the best thing to do is call FEMA and they will work with the individual to determine what assistance is or is not available,” Marzano said.

FEMA representatives began canvassing the area on Tuesday.

Available assistance

The Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides financial help or direct services to those who have necessary expenses and serious needs if they are unable to meet the needs through other means. Up to $30,200 is available in financial help (adjusted each year), although some forms of IHP assistance have limits. Flood insurance may be required as indicated below. These forms of help are available: Housing Assistance (including temporary housing, repair, replacement, and semi-permanent or permanent housing construction) and other needs assistance (including personal property and other items).

Housing assistance is also available, which includes the following:  

•Temporary housing: Money to rent a different place to live or a temporary housing unit when rental properties are not available.

•Repair: Money for homeowners to repair damage from the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to repair the home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition.

FEMA may provide up to $30,200 for home repair; then the homeowner may apply for a Small Business Administration disaster loan for additional repair assistance. FEMA will not pay to return a home to its condition before the disaster. Flood insurance may be required if the home is in a Special Flood Hazard Area. 

•Repair and replacement items include: structural parts of a home (foundation, outside walls, roof); windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, cabinetry; septic or sewage system; well or other water system; heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system; utilities (electrical, plumbing, and gas systems); entrance and exit ways from the home, including privately owned access roads; blocking, leveling and anchoring of a mobile home and reconnecting or resetting its sewer, water, electrical and fuel lines and tanks.