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Stanly awaits disaster declaration

As the number of counties declared for federal disaster aid from the impact of Hurricane Florence climb, Stanly remains absent from the growing list but that could change.

So far 27 counties have been declared eligible for federal disaster assistance. Monday nine additional counties were approved for disaster aid after Gov. Roy Cooper’s request. Among the latest added, Moore, Richmond and Scotland counties are the closest to Stanly.

“This deadly storm has left a lasting impact on families, neighborhoods and communities across a wide swath of our state,” Cooper said Tuesday. “Now is the time to pull together to help our fellow North Carolinians recover from Hurricane Florence and rebuild even stronger, and smarter, than before.”

Last week Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, applauded Cooper for getting disaster relief for counties in his district. He also showed optimism for those remaining counties that also sustained storm-related damages.

“I hope that Anson and Stanly counties will be included in the next round of requests so they too can get the help they need,” McInnis said.

The declared disaster areas stop short of Stanly, Montgomery, Anson and Union counties, although all experienced significant flooding. Neighboring Union County accounts for two of the state’s 36 fatalities attributed to Florence.

Despite the absence of a disaster declaration, property owners affected by Florence can still apply for disaster assistance.

“They might get denied initially if they apply before their county is declared, but once their county is declared, they will be reconsidered, and will receive a notification from FEMA based on the notification preference they chose when registering,” said Keith Acree, spokesman for the state’s Emergency Management.

The number of counties declared is likely to climb. As a reference, 50 counties were declared for Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

As of Tuesday, more than $33.2 million in disaster assistance funds have been approved after about 88,000 North Carolinians registered to receive aid through the Federal Emergency Management Association due to Florence.

Records show Florence was the second wettest hurricane behind Harvey in the last 50 years.

Anyone with a home damaged by Florence is encouraged to begin the disaster assistance registration process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA to register via telephone or by visiting disasterassistance.gov to register online.

Those with a homeowner’s or flood insurance policy should file an insurance claim immediately, before applying for disaster assistance. Do not wait to begin a cleanup and repairs. Take photos of all damage and save all receipts.

How To Apply For Aid

• Apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov. Constituents may call the registration phone number at 1-800-621-3362; those who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.

• FEMA has an app for constituents to upload pictures in order to document damage, apply for assistance, learn about the process, locate nearby shelters and local assistance in addition to numerous links and documents to help with preparedness, emergency relief and clean up/removal.

On Wednesday the U.S. Small Business Administration added more counties to the disaster declaration in North Carolina for businesses and residents affected by Hurricane Florence. Stanly and Montgomery counties are on the SBA’s list.

Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the disaster counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Applicants may be eligible for a loan increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, French drain or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates are as low as 3.675 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations and 2 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or ritchie.starnes@stanlynewspress.com.