Residents who lost property in eight South Carolina counties that were the worst hit by this week’s record floods are now able to apply for federal assistance after President Barack Obama on Monday declared a disaster area for much of South Carolina.
The declaration means residents in Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland and Williamsburg counties are now eligible to apply for low-interest loans and grants to pay for repairs. County governments and some nonprofits are also seek grants in those eight counties, plus Berkeley, Clarendon and Sumter counties.
Gov. Nikki Haley had made a verbal request for the designations in those 11 counties earlier Monday. “That number will change,” she told reporters shortly after making the request. “Those are just the ones that we’re doing because we have immediate needs now in 11 counties. As we go further… we are going to see that we’re going to be adding to that list.”
The federal assistance includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
A state Emergency Management Division spokesman said the amount of time between the governor’s request and the president’s approval was about seven hours, which he called a “lightning-fast” turnaround.
Haley told reporters she had spoken with the President and Mrs. Obama over the phone on Monday morning. The governor said he “was extremely gracious and kind” and that both he and the First Lady expressed their “concerns and prayers” for the people of South Carolina and that their administration was there to assist.
“We have now entered the largest recovery program our nation offers in an almost unprecedented timeframe,” Haley said in a statement released after the announcement. “What this allows us to do is to assess the damage of this storm in every single county and continue to add to the list of those eligible for this support – a list we know will grow.”
Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance Tuesday by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov. The lines will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET seven days a week.
Federal Aid Programs for the State of South Carolina
Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s disaster declaration issued for the State of South Carolina.
Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families Can Include as Required:
- Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
- Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
- Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs. (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the state.)
- Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals. (Source: FEMA funded; state administered.)
- Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
- Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
- Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence. (Source: Farm Service Agency, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.)
- Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans’ benefits and social security matters.
How to Apply for Assistance:
- Affected individuals and business owners in designated areas can begin the disaster application process by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov. Disaster assistance applicants, 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. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves (name, permanent address, phone number), insurance coverage and any other information to help substantiate losses.
Assistance for the State and Affected Local and Tribal Governments Can Include as Required:
- Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health. Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state and eligible local and tribal governments on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
- Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state, local and tribal governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
How to Apply for Assistance:
- Application procedures for state, local and tribal governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.