Hurricane

No word yet for Beaufort, Jasper counties on FEMA eligibility

No determination has been made yet whether Beaufort and Jasper counties will be eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance Program.

“Only Marion and Orangeburg (counties) have been approved by FEMA,” said Derrec Becker, a spokesman with the S.C. Emergency Management Division, when contacted Saturday by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. “We are waiting to hear about the rest. It’s going to be an ongoing process of approval as damage assessments are completed.”

Gov. Nikki Haley in a release Saturday morning announced that Marion and Orangeburg county residents impacted by Hurricane Matthew are now eligible for the FEMA program, which allows those residents to seek money for temporary rental assistance and essential home repairs for primary homes, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help survivors.

State and county emergency managers are “still conducting preliminary damage assessments in other storm-impacted counties in order to gather the necessary documentation to apply for additional federal assistance to help families and communities recover from the storm,” Haley said in the release.

Asked how long that will take for Beaufort and Jasper counties, Becker told the newspapers, “It’s a process that takes as long as it takes. ... It will be up to the White House to add more counties to the declaration.”

President Barack Obama on Oct. 11 declared South Carolina a major disaster area to allow federal funding to state and local governments for emergency work in counties affected by the hurricane, including Beaufort and Jasper counties. Disaster declarations have been also been announced for North Carolina, Florida and Georgia since the hurricane.

Anyone in South Carolina with unmet needs stemming from the hurricane, including food, clothing or shelter, should call 2-1-1 to be connected with local relief supplies, Haley said in her release. Residents with property damage can call 1-800-451-1954 to request volunteers from Helping Hands to assist with debris and mold cleanup.

Visit www.scemd.org for the latest on the state’s hurricane-recovery efforts.

Caitlin Turner: 843-706-8184, @Cait_E_Turner

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