County reviews eligibility for aid
By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 2, 2011 1:46 PM
Federal and state officials were in Wayne County Thursday to assess the damages left by Hurricane Irene and to start the process of determining whether or not they reached the threshold needed to trigger release of federal disaster dollars.
As of Thursday afternoon, the county was continuing to compile how much Irene will cost the county.
FEMA representative Daryll Carneal and Linda Smith of the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety met with county and municipal staffs as well as representatives from Wayne County Public Schools and Wayne Community College at the county courthouse annex.
Other FEMA and state officials met with Fire Marshal Brian Taylor at the Jeffreys Building to talk about possible aid for individual losses not covered by insurance.
Carneal and Ms. Smith distributed forms to be filled out before the officials left the courthouse annex.
The information on the forms is compiled and first goes to the state and then to FEMA, Carneal said. The disaster declaration is made by the president, he said.
Carneal said he had visited several eastern North Carolina counties this week and would visit others today. While it is not certain when the disaster declaration might be made, Carneal said efforts were to get the paperwork done as quickly as possible.
"If it is broke, get it fixed," he said. "Don't wait on us."
"This is our preliminary damage assessment for the public assistance section," the county's emergency services and security director Mel Powers told the county department heads and municipal leaders. "I know that name sounds a little confusing because when people think of public assistance they think about the public, the community, but it is actually our local government and non-profits.
"As of right we now we are only eligible for Category B, which are our emergency protective measures. We are trying to get to that threshold for Wayne County of $400,977. That is our threshold (to receive assistance)."
Carneal said that emergency protective measures are actions taken before, during and after a disaster to save lives, to protect public health and safety and to prevent damage to improved public and private property. Emergency communications, emergency access and emergency public transportation costs might also be eligible.
That includes items such as search and rescue, barricades and signs, police, provision of shelters or emergency care and removal of health and safety hazards.
Taylor said that while there are varying levels of damages scattered across the county, it does not appear to reach the level needed to receive federal disaster assistance.
The damages ranging from minor to major to destroyed have been plotted on a county map, he said. FEMA and the state were interested in the major damages and destroyed properties, he said.
Most of the worst damage appears to be from U.S. 117 and eastward, Taylor said. There was some west of Mount Olive as well.
"We had some (damage), but not a lot," Taylor said. "It was mostly roof damage. We had reports of a lot of minor roof damages. As far as individuals it looks like it will not be declared (disaster) for that. It does not meet criteria for that threshold."
Several mobile homes were destroyed, he said.