The following is a review of housing recovery developments related to Hurricane Florence since last week’s Memo to Members and Partners (for the article in last week’s Memo, see 9/24). NLIHC also posts this information at our On the Home Front blog.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office blog provides details on how FEMA Individual Assistance (IA) programs work and provides several recommendations on how the program can be improved.
The Natural Hazard Mitigation Association has developed several resources to assist stakeholders with navigating the complex path to long-term disaster recovery: a “Build-Back Smarter 9-Steps” paper, a newsletter that includes articles on disaster recovery, and a disaster risk-reduction eduction curriculum.
Residents in an additional ten counties (Greene, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Pitt, Richmond, Scotland, and Wilson) are eligible for IA. Governor Roy Cooper also requested IA for survivors in Montgomery County, but FEMA has not approved that request.
The Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program is available in eight counties: Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, and Robeson. This program provides temporary hotel stays for eligible survivors who have registered with FEMA. Governor Cooper requested TSA also be available for residents of Cumberland County, but FEMA has not approved that request. Survivors can find participating hotels online.
The Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) food assistance program is now available for survivors in impacted areas. Households not normally eligible for SNAP may still qualify for D-SNAP, which provides one month of benefits equal to the maximum amount of benefits normally issued to a SNAP household of that family’s size. Households already receiving SNAP will receive a supplement to their benefits.
Department of Labor
The U.S. Department of Labor awarded North Carolina a grant of $18.5 million to hire residents of the areas impacted by Hurricane Florence to work on recovery efforts. This grant aims to provide temporary jobs in response to significant job losses following the storm.
Governor Roy Cooper requested the federal government cover 100% of the state’s costs for initial disaster response. Generally, the state covers 25%, and FEMA pays the remaining 75%, but the president may decide to waive the state’s cost-share upon request.
Eighteen counties are approved for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, and residents can file through October 17 or 18, depending on the county.
Governor Cooper approved $4 million to fund mosquito control efforts in counties impacted by Hurricane Florence. The rains and flooding have increased the mosquito population significantly in these areas, posing a potential health risk.
Local Perspectives and Resources
Flooding can be particularly hard for low income older adults who are often on fixed incomes and may face additional physical challenges. NPR shares stories of seniors in North Carolina who have been impacted by Hurricane Florence.
The New York Times reports that North Carolina has struggled to distribute Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding to low and moderate income residents following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Many of those impacted by Hurricane Matthew were still struggling to recover when Hurricane Florence hit. Some residents have waited more than a year for FEMA and state and local officials to process money they need to rebuild their homes. The state has spent only $2 million of a $236.5 million grant from 2016 and approved only 53 of 1,100 applications.
An article from the Huffington Post shares photos and testimony from residents of Solomon Towers, a public housing development in Wilmington, NC, and demonstrates the impacts of Hurricane Florence on low income people. The lack of thorough maintenance prior to the storm led to significant damage that residents fear may not be fixed quickly.
The organizers of the North Carolina Affordable Housing Conference have added an additional workshop on disaster recovery. The conference will take place October 24-25 in Raleigh, NC. You can register for the conference here.
Six counties in South Carolina – Chesterfield, Dillon, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, and Marlboro – were designated for Individual Assistance on September 21. This designation allows residents in these counties to apply for uninsured and underinsured damages and losses resulting from Hurricane Florence.
Small Business Administration
The four counties now approved for FEMA IA are also eligible for Physical Injury Disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved $8 million in Federal Highway Administration “Quick Release” Emergency Funds for the South Carolina Department of Transportation to begin repairing highways.
Residents in four counties (Dillon, Horry, Marion, and Marlboro) are eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) through the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. Survivors can apply for benefits online at dew.sc.gov or call 1-866-831-1724. Although run through the state, DUA is a FEMA-funded program.
Local Perspectives and Resources
Hurricane survivors facing legal issues and unable to afford a lawyer may call the South Carolina Bar disaster hotline at 877-797-2227 ext. 120 (toll-free) or 803-576-3815 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, to request assistance. When connected to the hotline, callers should identify that they are seeking disaster-related legal assistance, provide brief details of the assistance needed, and indicate in which disaster-declared county they are located. Individuals can also sign up to help with the hotline here.
South Carolina Legal Services provides free legal assistance to low income South Carolinians on a variety of civil issues, including disaster recovery. Apply by calling 888-346-5592 or going online at https://www.lawhelp.org/sc/online-intake.
The One SC Fund provides grants to nonprofits that provide recovery and rebuilding assistance.
South Carolina Appleseed has a resource page on their website that provides information on disaster recovery.
Hurricane Florence has caused rivers across South Carolina to reach record-high levels, flooding thousands of homes across the state.