FEMA extends registration deadline for Hurricane Matthew survivors

By Chase Jordan - [email protected]

RALEIGH – Sampson County residents seeking assistance to fix damages from Hurricane Matthew now have two more weeks to apply for aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Gov. Roy Cooper recently announced FEMA has approved the state of North Carolina’s request for a 14-day extension for Hurricane Matthew survivors to apply for federal disaster assistance. The new deadline is Monday, Jan. 23.

“Our top priority this weekend is keeping families safe during the winter storm,” Cooper said “As soon as conditions improve, I urge hurricane survivors to register with FEMA to see what aid may be available to help them recover and move forward.”

This is the second extension granted to help those impacted by the hurricane. The state requested more time for survivors because of a notable dip in registrations during the holiday season. The recent winter storm may prevent some people who intended to register from doing so.

The new Jan. 23 deadline to register with FEMA applies to homeowners, renters and businesses submitting applications for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Cooper encouraged all those who were impacted by Hurricane Matthew to register with FEMA, even those who have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but if you are underinsured you may receive help after your claim has been settled.

Debra Young, a media relations specialist for FEMA, advised anyone who had damage from water to register, regardless of insignificant it may seem.

“It’s possible that there is hidden damage, such as structural damage, that may not become evident until months later,” Young said. “You must be registered before the deadline to receive assistance. If you are living in unsafe conditions in a home with water damage and possibly mold, there is housing assistance available to help get you into temporary housing while your home is being repaired.

“I met a woman last week who was living in a mobile home with mold and no heat and she didn’t know there was help available for her,” Young said.

As of Monday, Jan. 8, in Sampson County, 2,144 households have registered for assistance and more than $1.9 million in assistance was approved. According to FEMA officials, $1.6 million was used for housing assistance.

Registration is open to survivors in 45 counties designated for Individual Assistance, including: Anson, Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chatham, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Moore, Nash, Northampton, Onslow, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Wake, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.

Young added that a non-citizen national with a Social Security number or a qualified emigrant with permanent resident, refugee or asylum status may apply. Undocumented parents and guardians of a child who is a U.S. citizen in a home, may apply for federal disaster assistance on behalf of the youth.

“FEMA does not ask questions about citizenship or immigrant status of other household members and no information will be gathered,” Young said.

Registering with FEMA is the first step to federal disaster assistance. To register:

• Go online at DisasterAssistance.gov.

• Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 for voice, 711 and Video Relay Service. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585.

• Download the FEMA Mobile App

• Apply by Jan. 23.

For more information, Hurricane Matthew survivors can visit one of the three open Disaster Recovery Centers. The centers are staffed with representatives from FEMA, North Carolina Emergency Management and SBA. Survivors can get help applying for federal assistance, learn about the types of assistance available, learn about the appeals process and get updates about applications. To locate the center nearest you, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362, use the ReadyNC and FEMA mobile apps, or go online to FEMA.gov/DRC or ReadyNC.org.

Survivors requiring a reasonable accommodation such as American Sign Language interpreting, Braille, large print, etc. while visiting a disaster recovery center may call the helpline numbers for support. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Help is available in most languages, and information on the registration process is available in ASL at FEMA.gov/media-library/assets/videos/111546.

For more information on North Carolina’s recovery from Hurricane Matthew, visit the disaster webpages at FEMA.gov/disaster/4285 or ReadyNC.org.

By Chase Jordan

[email protected]