RALEIGH, N.C. -- The destruction of much of the housing stock in Eastern North Carolina's flood-ravaged counties has prompted Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials to make a major change in payment options for disaster housing needs of Hurricane Floyd victims.
For the first time, the federal agency will make available a one-time, lump sum payment not to exceed $10,000 for disaster-related housing needs for owners whose homes have sustained major damage during Hurricanes Floyd and Irene. Major damage is considered to be damage so extensive that a FEMA inspector has determined that it will exceed $10,000 to make the home habitable.
Glenn Woodard, federal coordinating officer for the recovery effort, said that the accelerated rental assistance payment option would begin this week to give people some flexibility and choice in meeting their disaster-related housing needs. "We are starting the process immediately, but it will take some time to contact all the applicants who may be eligible," Woodard said.
Gov. Jim Hunt initially requested revising the types of payment options due to the lack of temporary housing alternatives in many of the flood-ravaged counties. "The lump-sum payment will help a lot of people get the immediate capital they need to have good, safe, housing choices," said Eric Tolbert, state coordinating officer.
Both recovery officials emphasized that the $10,000 lump-sum option was simply a payment choice, not an additional benefit. Applicants may instead choose the traditional method of receiving monthly rental payments. However, if the applicant chooses the lump sum option, the following applies:
- The lump sum payment will be adjusted for any rental the applicant has already received.
- Neither renters nor homeowners with flood insurance are eligible for the lump sum payment.
- The accelerated payment will not affect eligibility for the Individual and Family Grant Program (IFG), or Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.
- The lump sum payment may be combined with other program monies from IFG or SBA to meet their disaster related housing needs.
- Homeowners who choose the lump sum option may be eligible for travel trailers provided they can repair or replace their damaged home in a short period of time.