ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – State and federal disaster assistance is bringing needed financial help to homeowners, renters and business owners in 14 counties who suffered damages as a result of Tropical Storm Nicole.
However, those payments come with some words of advice from the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management and Federal Emergency Management Agency: Use disaster funds wisely and only for their intended purpose.
To date, disaster grants and loans totaling more than $3 million have been approved.
“We want to make sure you use the money to meet specific disaster-related needs,” Federal Coordinating Officer W. Montague Winfield said.
Housing Assistance grants are intended for one of three uses only:
- Basic housing repairs for homeowners
- Short-term rental assistance, or
- Reimbursement of hotel/motel expenses
Other Needs Assistance grants are intended to help replace essential personal property and meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable-aid programs.
Most funds are deposited electronically and a letter follows in the mail to explain how the money is to be used.
Here are tips to help you get the most out of your personal disaster recovery payment:
- Keep all of your receipts.
- If you receive your grant in the form of a check, make sure to deposit it promptly – Do not cash it.
- Don’t be tempted to pay household bills with the disaster recovery payment.
- Don’t make purchases unrelated to needs created by the disaster.
Disaster grants are subject to an audit and recipients should keep receipts or bills for three years to demonstrate how all funds were used in meeting disaster-related needs. These grants are tax free and are not a loan. They do not have to be repaid. They are not counted as income for welfare or other federal benefit programs and they cannot be garnished.
President Obama’s major disaster declaration for North Carolina made federal funding available to affected individuals in Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Camden, Craven, Hertford, Jones, Martin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington counties.
Assistance for homeowners and renters can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are also available to homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofit organizations of all sizes.
“If you receive an SBA home loan application after you apply with FEMA, be sure to complete and return it,” Winfield said. “Completing the loan application does not commit you to a loan; it is an important part of the federal financial disaster assistance process.”
FEMA’s housing assistance and grants for disaster-related medical and dental expenses, funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to the SBA to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
More Disaster Recovery Centers are planned for Camden, New Hanover, Martin and Washington counties.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without r...