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FEMA deadline to file for Hurricane Florence emergency assistance Dec. 13

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By Brian Slattery

BOLIVIA — The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided more than $42.4 million to Brunswick County residents, including $6.8 million to homeowners and renters meeting housing assistance, as a result of Hurricane Florence.

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FEMA division supervisor Bob Spence and U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance public affairs specialist Lyn Eldridge updated Brunswick County commissioners on emergency response during the board’s agenda meeting Monday afternoon.

Spence and Eldridge reminded commissioners Dec. 13 is the deadline to file for Florence-related FEMA assistance and Small Business Administration loans.

Thus far, Eldridge said, $17.7 million in Small Business Association loans have been approved for homeowners and businesses.

More than 1,000 flood insurance claims were filed in Brunswick County and $18 million has been paid to date, Spence said.

At its peak, FEMA provided temporary hotels to help more than 30 families in Brunswick County who needed long-term housing options, Spence said. That number has fallen to 16 now.

FEMA reviewed requests for 26 travel trailers to provide direct temporary housing. Six trailers are in place; the remaining 23 are on order and have to be inspected and installed.

By the time FEMA closed its Disaster Recovery Center at the Brunswick Community College on Nov. 30, it had assisted 1,646 visitors.

The Disaster Recovery Center at Independence Mall in Wilmington remains open for Brunswick County residents who still need assistance, Spence said.

FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Tams, crews who went door-to-door asking if residents need assistance with registration or applications, contacted 7,700 people in Brunswick County. Spence said the six crews remaining in the county will leave Dec. 13.

Commission chairman Frank Williams asked Spence how many Brunswick County individuals applied for FEMA assistance.

Almost 10,000 individuals applied for assistance, with 8,300 qualified and receiving some type of assistance and 1,800 receiving the full amount of assistance they requested, Spence said.

“Individuals can appeal multiple times,” Spence said. He clarified only uninsured losses were covered by FEMA, meaning others who applied had insurance to provide their assistance.

About 20 Brunswick County residents, mostly from Stoney Creek Plantation in Leland, received full $33,000 FEMA grants.

Eldridge said although the SBA loan application deadline is Dec. 13, people who applied have six months to appeal if necessary.

As of Nov. 30, SBA Disaster Assistance approved 500 loans in Brunswick County, including 45 businesses, and paid out $20 million, she said.

SBA also offers an economic injury loan that provides businesses and nonprofit corporations with working capital, which is still available. Eldridge said the deadline to apply is June 14, 2019.

The loan is “for businesses that still have bills to pay while they’re in long-term recovery,” Eldridge said. “Businesses can apply for up to $2 millions to cover physical damage and economic loss.”

If a small business needs an SBA loan, it should apply for one.

“We hear that people are financing their recovery anyway with loans or their credit cards,” Eldridge said.

If the small business receives an SBA loan, it doesn’t have to accept it, Eldridge said

“If you don’t go through the application process that’s been referred by FEMA, it stops the FEMA process, but by doing it you keep that open,” she said. “The SBA strives to be a long-term solution to make communities whole.”

Other business

In other business, Brunswick County Public Utilities Director John Nichols told commissioners he had bad news and good news from attending the North Carolina American Water Works Association and North Carolina Water Environment Association annual conference.

“The BCU did not win the North Carolina District system of the year for a fifth year in a row,” Nichols said. “All dynasties end, but we brought three awards back.”

Brunswick County Public Utilities received the George W. Burke Jr. Safety Award while Bobby Faircloth was named AWWA Collection System Operator of the Year and Adam Sellers was named AWWA Water Distribution System Operator of the Year.

Commissioners Randy Thompson and Marty Cooke were sworn into office during the agenda meeting.

Thompson ran unopposed for his District 1 seat and Cooke defeated Marilyn Priddy to retain his District 2 seat in the Nov. 6 general election.

Immediately afterward, Williams was re-elected chairman and Thompson was elected vice chairman of the board.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.