As Florence Leaves Devastating Effects, North Carolina Ramps Up Response, Recovery Efforts State Agencies Stepping Up to Help North Carolinians Hurt by the Storm

RALEIGH

With many North Carolina communities hit hard by Hurricane Florence, state agencies are continuing their comprehensive response and recovery efforts, Governor Roy Cooper said today.

“North Carolinians are resilient, and as the flood waters begin to recede in some places we are working together to make our state even stronger,” Gov. Cooper said. “Employees from across state government are helping coordinate emergency response, keep people safe, help storm victims, clear roads, and more.”

To help North Carolina storm victims:

  • Anyone with a home damaged by Florence in any county is encouraged to begin the FEMA registration process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA to register via telephone or by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov to register online.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services has ensured that 600,000 households enrolled in the Food and Nutrition Service program can purchase hot food using their EBT cards. The NC Department of Revenue is notifying retailers that these purchases will be tax free. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) beneficiaries that live in impacted areas can also get food benefits for the current month automatically loaded onto their eWIC card, even if their local agency is closed.
  • DHHS experts have added flexibility to Medicaid to help patients access care and for doctors and other health providers to deliver services.  
  • Disaster unemployment assistance is now available for North Carolinians unable to work due to Florence through the NC Department of Commerce’s Division of Employment Security. For more information, people can call 1-866-795-8877 or visit des.nc.gov. Commerce’s Division of Workforce Solutions is also applying for funds from the U.S. Department of Labor to create a temporary employment program for individuals whose employment has been affected by the storm.
  • NC Commerce is working to coordinate disaster recovery assistance for business owners impacted by Hurricane Florence, with more information for business owners and company executives impacted by the storm here. NC Commerce’s call center for businesses, Business Link North Carolina, is offering information and referrals to recovery resources. Trained business counselors are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, toll free at (800) 228-8443.
  • The NC Department of Agriculture is providing disaster planning for farms and agribusinesses impacted by Hurricane Florence. The office is providing updates and information on agricultural services and animal safety. For more information, visit: http://www.ncagr.gov/disaster/.
  • Twenty-five North Carolina counties are authorized for Farm Service Agency emergency loans for eligible family farmers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture: Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Chatham, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, Onslow, Pender, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wake, Wayne and Wilson. Applications may be received for physical and production losses through May 17, 2019. More information is available at www.fsa.usda.gov.
  • The NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund can help homeowners who are struggling due to job loss or temporary unemployment, reduction of income or temporary financial hardship, because of natural disaster such as Hurricane Florence. For qualified homeowners, the Fund can help with a mortgage payment. Contact the NC Housing Finance Agency for more information at http://www.ncforeclosureprevention.gov or call 1-888-623-8631.
  • Taxpayers and businesses in federally-declared disaster counties will get  more time to file their taxes with both the state and the IRS. The NCDOR will waive penalties for affected taxpayers. In response to diesel fuel supply interruptions from the hurricane, NCDOR will also waive tax penalties when dyed diesel fuel is sold for use in highway vehicles in North Carolina.
  • The State Insurance Commissioner is educating North Carolinians on their insurance information during storm disaster and recovery. The commissioner encourages people to visit www.NCHurriClaims.com for information on recovery and insurance coverage.
  • The Office of the Attorney General is warning consumers about price gouging in North Carolina. The office is encouraging citizens to report potential price gouging by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.

Among the efforts underway by state agencies to respond to the storm and its aftermath:

  • In the NC Department of Public Safety, NC Emergency Management personnel continue to lead Hurricane Florence response and recovery efforts. State Highway Patrol troopers are providing detour assistance to motorists traveling on major roadways closed due to flooding and assisting municipalities with road closures, detours, traffic direction and patrols. After evacuating more than 3,000 inmates, Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice personnel have brought offenders from county jails into state prison facilities and provided transportation for National Guard troops. Alcohol Law Enforcement agents are helping provide security and shelters and supply staging areas, and Special Operations and Intelligence Unit members are helping with logistics of deploying state officers.
  • Within DHHS, the Division of Social Services worked with local county officials and the Red Cross to set up shelters for thousands of people from across the state. The department is also operating four medical shelters in Clayton, Goldsboro, High Point and Wilmington for evacuees with non-acute medical needs, as well as a five-bed emergency department in Kinston. The department is working to recruit volunteer nurses and health care professionals to meet needs now and into the future.
  • Officers with the State Wildlife Commission are using boats to conduct search and rescue missions and deliver supplies.
  • More than 2,600 NC Department of Transportation employees and about 250 contractors are mobilized to inspect and clear roads. NCDOT experts are part of the State Emergency Operations Center and the department’s engineers continue to help identify routes to bring in emergency response crews and critical supplies. The NCDOT Ferry Division helped evacuate 2,181 people and 1,074 vehicles and is also using two of its ferries to transport fuel, trucks and equipment. The Global TransPark in Kinston is serving as an emergency response base for eastern North Carolina. The North Carolina State Ports Authority is working closely with local DOT to provide support including fuel to keep their trucks running.
  • NC Department of Information Technology personnel have helped track and assist 911 centers that had to relocate due to the storm. NC HealthConnex, the state’s health information exchange, quickly set up ties to nearby states so potential evacuees could have access to their medical records if needed. DIT’s chief risk officer has also warned residents to watch for online scams and attempted hacking, which typically increase during disasters.
  • NC Department of Environmental Quality experts are assessing, and monitoring coal ash impoundments, vulnerable dams and hog lagoons impacted by flooding. DEQ staff are also working with water treatment plants and water systems facing power and flooding issues and responding to any releases or issues that impact public water supply. Expert staff from water resources, dam safety, waste management, air quality and marine patrol are on site at the EOC.  DEQ also launched a dashboard compiling the latest information on environmental impacts here.
  • With the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, State Parks Law Enforcement Officers are assisting with emergency response activities. The N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and Singletary Lake State Park in Bladen County are serving as temporary disaster response centers. The State Historic Preservation Office has launched an online public portal for reporting storm damage to historic structures. State historic preservation experts are also working with DEQ’s Division of Waste Management and FEMA to handle expedited review of proposed debris removal sites.
  • NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs staff are working to help veteran nursing homes and cemeteries remain operational. Personnel are visiting shelters to locate veterans and their family members and connect them with services and resources. In select shelters, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) is providing medical services to veterans in need. The department is also working with veteran service partner organizations to provide resources to those who have been impacted by the storm, including first responders. For more information on resources available for veterans, visit the Veterans Administration or call 1-800-507-4571. 
  • The Office of State Human Resources has developed options for state employees who were unable to report for work due to Hurricane Florence, including additional leave for employees who experienced substantial damage to their place of residence. Employees who could not safely get to or from work during the storm will have an additional 90 days to make up the missed time. State employees will also have an additional 16 hours of Community Service Leave to volunteer with storm-related activities. State employees with questions about their particular circumstances should contact their agency’s human resources office.
  • NC Department of Administration’s State Surplus Property Office is working closely with Emergency Management and state agency officials to identify surplus property that may benefit local governments in their storm recovery efforts. DOA’s Office for Historically Underutilized Businesses is working with other agencies to assess high-need work opportunities and potential storm-related contracting needs for small Minority and Women-Owned Businesses.

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