Applying for FEMA Disaster Assistance
Homeowners, renters and business owners who have uninsured and underinsured losses as a result of Hurricane Florence are encouraged to begin the FEMA registration process. Here are 3 ways to apply:
- Online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov
- By calling 1-800-621-3362
- Finding a recovery center at www.fema.gov/DRC
If you are in one of the designated counties, you will need the following to apply for assistance:
- Social Security Number;
- Daytime telephone number;
- Current mailing address and address and zip code of the damaged property; and
- Insurance information, if available.
After registering with FEMA, you may be contacted by a FEMA-contracted housing inspector to schedule an inspection to verify disaster-related damage. The inspection generally takes about 20-40 minutes. The inspector will want to see the damaged areas of the home and any damaged furniture and personal property. There is no fee for the inspection.
Flood or Homeowner Insurance Claim
If you have a homeowner’s or flood insurance policy, file insurance claim immediately before applying for disaster assistance. Do not wait to begin cleanup and repairs. Take photos of all damage and save all receipts. Get the process started quickly. The faster you file, the faster your recovery can begin.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
If you are unemployed due to Hurricane Florence, you may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). To start the process, you can file online here or call 1-866-795-8877.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages producers with crops insured under the Federal Crop Insurance Program to immediately contact their local crop insurance agent to report any damage to insured crops after the storm. Farmers can also consult USDA’s Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool to see what assistance programs they may be eligible.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a hotline to connect farmers with resources that can assist with agricultural emergencies. The toll-free number is 1-866-645-9403. The hotline operates 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Farmers can also find recovery resources on the department’s disaster Web pages, www.ncagr.gov/disaster.
Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP)
Residents who suffered damage from Hurricane Florence can now apply for help buying food through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). Residents must apply by Saturday, October 6, 2018, at one of the application sites listed here. A list of FAQ can also be found online here.
To be eligible for D-SNAP, a person must:
- Live in one of the disaster declared counties, current list above.
- Have suffered losses/damages related to Hurricane Florence, such as damage to property, loss of income or food loss.
- Have proof of identity and proof of residency (if available).
- Have income and resources below certain levels.
- Not currently be receiving help buying food through the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) program. People receiving FNS can also get extra help buying food, but do not need to fill out a D-SNAP application. They can get more information about how to get the extra help here.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened Business Recovery Centers (BRC) in New Bern and Greenville to help businesses impacted by Hurricane Florence. SBA representatives at the centers can provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application. These BRCs are open TODAY and are located at the following locations:
Centenary United Methodist Church
309 New St. New Bern
Hours: Mon - Fri, 8am – 5pm, Sat 9am - 5pm Closed on Sunday
Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) Regional Service Center
East Carolina University Willis Building
300 E. 1st St. Greenville
Hours: Mon - Fri 8am – 5pm, Sat 9am - 2pm Closed on Sunday
Returning Home and Cleaning Up
Below are a few simple guidelines to follow that will make the clean-up and salvage process safer and easier:
- Always wear protective clothing including long-sleeve shirts, long pants, rubber or plastic gloves and waterproof boots or shoes.
- Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines and other exterior damage.
- Take photos of your damage before you begin clean up and save repair receipts.
- Your home may be contaminated with mold, which raises the health risk for those with asthma, allergies and breathing conditions. Refer to the Center for Disease Control for more info on mold: www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/pdf/flyer-get-rid-of-mold.pdf.
- Open doors and windows so your house can air out before spending any length of time inside.
- Turn off main electrical power and water systems and don’t use gas appliances until a professional can ensure they are safe.
- Check all ceilings and floors for signs of sagging or other potentially dangerous structural damage.
- Throw out all foods, beverages and medicines exposed to flood waters or mud including canned goods and containers with food or liquid.
- Also, throw out any items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (mattresses, carpeting, stuffed animals, etc.).
- Beware of snakes, insects, and other animals that may be on your property or in your home.
- Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
- Clean all hard surfaces (flooring, countertops, appliances, sinks, etc.) thoroughly with hot water and soap or detergent.
Hurricane Florence cleanup has started in many areas. Be sure to wear protective clothing, separate everything into categories. avoid wading through flood water and follow your county's guidance on debris removal.
How to Help
The North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund is currently accepting contributions for Hurricane Florence damage. Contributions will help with immediate unmet needs of Hurricane Florence victims. Contributions are made online by secure link; or text Florence to 20222. If you are unable to text or give online, you may mail your contribution to:
North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund
20312 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
Donate food items only through your local food bank - www.NCFoodBanks.org - or charities in your community.
If you want to get involved in response and recovery efforts, you should first connect with an established team. A list of reputable volunteer agencies is available on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website at nvoad.org. Or, visit VolunteerNC at nc.gov/volunteer.
Beware of Fraud and Scams
If you suspect fraud, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. These are common post-disaster fraud practices storm victims should be vigilant of:
Housing inspectors claiming to represent FEMA
- Be cautious if somebody asks for your nine-digit registration number. FEMA inspectors will never ask for this information. They already have it in their records.
- FEMA inspectors never require banking or other personal information such as a Social Security number.
- Ask the inspectors to show you their identification badge. Federal employees and contractors always wear an official government or government contractor badge to identify themselves
- Call FEMA at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) if you are suspicious of someone who says they’re a housing inspector sent by FEMA.
Fake offers of local or federal aid
- Don’t trust someone who asks for money. Federal and local disaster workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications.
- Don’t believe anyone who promises a disaster grant and asks for large cash deposits or advance payments in full.
- Report suspected fraud to the NC Consumer Protection Division at 877-5-NO SCAM (919-716-0058 for Spanish speakers).
Avoiding fraudulent building contractors
- Use licensed or verified local contractors backed by reliable references.
- To find licensed certified contractors check the North Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. The department offers tips on disaster repair here.
- Don’t pay more than half the costs of repairs in advance.
- Demand that contractors detail the job to be done with guarantees in writing.
FEMA has created a rumor control page (click here to view) for Hurricane Florence that will be updated regularly. During disasters, there are lots of rumors and false information being spread. Be sure to always check with official sources before sharing.