WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

75 seek FEMA aid, 1,200 apply for food assistance

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So far, 75 Wilson County residents have registered with the Federal Management Agency for assistance after Hurricane Florence.

Wilson is one of many North Carolina counties that received a federal disaster declaration as a result of the storm. That designation allows residents to apply for federal assistance in the form of grants, which do not have to be repaid.

FEMA is still accepting applications. The deadline is Nov. 13. Residents can apply by calling 1-800-621-3362 or visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

EMERGENCY FOOD AID

Gordon Deno, Wilson County Emergency Management director, gave county commissioners an update and overview on local agencies’ response to Hurricane Florence on Monday.

Deno said more than 1,200 people had applied for the food assistance program. The Wilson County Department of Social Services opened a disaster food aid application center Friday at the former Wilson Times office building on Downing Street.

DSS officials said the majority of folks are either applying for the program due to lost wages because of the storm or due to lost income preparing for the storm.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will provide disaster food assistance to those eligible. The program, administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is open to individuals not normally eligible for Food and Nutrition Services benefits who were affected by Hurricane Florence.

The site will remain open until Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

‘WE WERE VERY FORTUNATE’

Deno told commissioners residents heeded the warnings prior to Hurricane Florence and were prepared.

“The initial forecast for Wilson County was pretty much a (Hurricane) Floyd-type event,” he said. “If the storm had come in 30 miles north of where it did, we would have looked like Wayne County. We were very fortunate.”

Deno said Wilson County didn’t have flooded homes this time.

“We did during Hurricane Matthew,” he said.

There were no reported injuries or fatalities either for Wilson County. The Sept. 17 tornado that swept through Elm City on the storm’s back end damaged 31 homes, five of which received “heavy damage,” Deno explained. He said the remaining homes received moderate to low damage.

Wilson’s federal disaster declaration allows the county to receive reimbursement for response and recovery resources used for Florence. Deno said officials are grateful to the many partner agencies and others including Lowe’s and Boy Scout Troop No. 8, which helped officials set up and man the shelters. He also thanked the Maggie Society, whose members staffed the county’s new companion animal mobile trailer, dubbed the Critter Camper, during the storm.

SMALL BUSINESS DISASTER LOANS

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are also available for homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofits.

SBA spokesman Corey Williams attended Monday night’s county commissioner meeting with information on resources for residents here.

Business owners and nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets, officials said.

The SBA also offers disaster assistance loans of up to $200,000 to homeowners for the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible to borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property, officials said. Vehicles that were damaged are also eligible for disaster assistance loans.

The agency also offers economic injury disaster loans to provide working capital to affected business owners, allowing them to sustain themselves throughout the recovery period, officials said.

“Maybe some of the trucking industries may have had more of an economic injury just from the access or inability to access Interstate 95, which can affect them economically,” Williams told commissioners. “Even though it wasn’t a physical impact from Hurricane Florence, it can still impact the businesses economically.”

The SBA is offering a nine-month payment deferment to existing SBA loan clients who were affected by hurricanes Floyd or Matthew, Williams said.

“Even if that person didn’t receive any damage as a result of Hurricane Florence,” he noted.

The SBA’s filing deadline is Nov. 13 and applications can be completed online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

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