COLUMBIA, S.C. – Hurricane Florence survivors in South Carolina still have time to apply for federal disaster assistance. But you may need help beyond what FEMA can offer. Assistance may be available to individuals and families from other federal, state and volunteer organizations.
STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
The S.C. Emergency Management Division serves as a resource for a range of public and private assistance available to Florence survivors. For information, visit scemd.org/recover/get-help.
Cleanup: SCEMD provides information and resources on cleaning up mold, sewage and other contaminants that may have entered the home during the flooding: scemd.org/news/health-and-safety.
Consumer Affairs: The S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs offers the “Recovering from a Disaster” guide, available at www.consumer.sc.gov. Suspected fraud and scams can be reported at the same website (click “Report a Scam”) or by calling 844-835-5322.
Food safety: Information about food-related risks and safety tips after a disaster is available at the S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control website at: go.usa.gov/xPVXP.
Many federal agencies offer support to survivors after a disaster. Getting the help you need can be as simple as visiting disasterassistance.gov/get-assistance/find-assistance. By answering a few simple questions, you can get a list of agencies and programs specific to your needs.
Low-interest disaster loans for businesses, homeowners and renters
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the primary source of federal funds for businesses and individuals affected by disasters. One of FEMA’s federal partners in disaster recovery, the SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes as well as homeowners and renters. The loans may cover repairs, rebuilding and the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged real estate and personal property. Homeowners or renters who do not qualify for an SBA loan still may be eligible for additional assistance from FEMA. Survivors must first register for federal assistance at disasterassistance.gov and, if referred to SBA, should complete and return the SBA application by Nov. 20, the physical property damage deadline.
Once an SBA loan application is approved, survivors may be eligible to borrow additional funds to cover the cost of improvements that will protect survivor’s property against future damage (mitigation). Examples include elevating utilities, water heaters and furnaces, and installing retaining walls and sump pumps. Applicants may be eligible for an SBA loan increase, for mitigation purposes, of up to 20 percent of their physical damages.
For more information about SBA loans, call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit sba.gov/disaster. Applicants may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The IRS has extended the deadlines that apply to filing returns, paying taxes, and performing certain other time-sensitive acts for certain taxpayers affected by Hurricane Florence. The extension applies to deadlines (either an original or extended due date) that occurred on or after Sept. 7, 2018 and before Jan. 31, 2019. Visit the IRS page called Help for Victims of Hurricane Florence in South Carolina at go.usa.gov/xPVZq.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Two HUD programs may ease the financial pressure of financing housing and repairs in disaster areas:
- Mortgage Insurance for Disaster Victims: helps survivors finance a new home or rebuild their damaged one. To qualify, survivors must own a one-family home damaged by Hurricane Florence and live in a county designated in the federal declaration. Information on mortgage insurance can be found online at go.usa.gov/xPVB8.)
- Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance: helps home buyers and owners finance both the purchase of a house and cost of its rehabilitation through a single mortgage or to finance the rehabilitation of their existing home. For less extensive repairs, a limited program permits home buyers and owners to finance up to $35,000 of their mortgage to repair, improve, or upgrade their home.
Information on Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance can be found online at go.usa.gov/xPVB5.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA website provides extensive guidance on dealing with debris and damaged buildings. For information, visit go.usa.gov/xPVBR.
The Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF)
Co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and FEMA, HENTF partners with 58 organizations and government agencies to help people and institutions protect and salvage their valuable heirlooms, family treasures and documents. Two useful HENTF fact sheets are:
Salvaging Water-Damaged Family Valuables and Heirlooms, available online at go.usa.gov/xPVWC
After the Flood: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures, available online at go.usa.gov/xPVW8
For more information visit the HENTF website: culturalrescue.si.edu/hentf.
FEMA Hazard Mitigation
Find online publications about making your home more weather-resistant: Protecting Your Home and Property from Flood Damage, available online at go.usa.gov/xPVWm; and Against the Wind: Protecting Your Home from Hurricane and Wind Damage, available online at go.usa.gov/xPVWF.
VOLUNTARY AGENCIES IN S.C.
You can find a list of disaster relief organizations with information on obtaining resources, volunteering and donating to relief efforts at scemd.org/recover/volunteer-and-donate.
Repairs and Cleanup: Call the United Way Association of South Carolina at 800-451-1954 for free help with debris cleanup and removal by local relief agencies.
Disaster Fraud Hotline: After a disaster, scam artists, identity thieves, and other criminals often attempt to take advantage of vulnerable survivors. Report any suspicious activity to the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721.
Find Local Help: Anyone with unmet needs as a result of storms and flooding should call 2-1-1 to inquire about what local aid might be available.
Disaster Distress Helpline: The helpline is available 24 hours daily to provide counseling to anyone who is seeking help in coping with Hurricane Florence. Call 800-985-5990 (844-889-4357 TTY). Multilingual operators are available. Press 2 for Spanish. Text “TalkWithUs” (for Spanish “Hablanos”) to 66746 or visit Samsha.gov/find-help.
If you have questions about FEMA registration or have serious needs and have not yet registered for assistance, call the FEMA Helpline (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362 (TTY users should call 800-462-7585) or visit disasterassistance.gov. Multilingual operators are available.
If you registered for disaster assistance with FEMA, stay in touch. If your address or phone number changes, update that information with FEMA. Missing or erroneous information could result in delays getting a home inspection or in receiving assistance.
For more information on Hurricane Florence and South Carolina recovery, visit the S.C. Emergency Management Division website at scemd.org, on social media (@SCEMD on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), or FEMA’s Hurricane Florence disaster webpage at www.fema.gov/disaster/4394, or Facebook at www.facebook.com/FEMA, and the FEMA Region 4 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion4.