North Carolinians who are eligible for a special program to provide rapid repairs to homes damaged by Hurricane Florence have until January 17, 2019 to sign up and should not delay, Governor Roy Cooper urged today. The Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program provides temporary, partial repairs at no cost to homeowners so Hurricane Florence survivors can return to and remain in their homes while longer-term repairs continue.
"People pushed out of their homes by Hurricane Florence long to return home, and for eligible homeowners the STEP program can help them get home sooner,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “Returning home puts families back in their own communities and closer to work and school as they put their lives back together after this devastating storm.”
The STEP program is designed to provide repairs to homes that received approximately $17,000 of damage or less in Hurricane Florence. The program is available in Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Robeson counties.
A total of 15,784 North Carolina storm survivors have been contacted by telephone, text message and postcard to encourage them to apply to participate in the STEP program. Eligible homeowners were selected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) based on data gathered from survivors who registered with FEMA.
To participate in the STEP program, eligible homeowners must sign a Right of Entry (ROE) form by January 17, 2019.
Once a homeowner completes the form, an inspector will visit the home to assess the damage. For homes confirmed eligible for STEP, the inspector will develop a repair plan. Depending on the level of damage, the repairs will be made by either a volunteer disaster relief group (NC Baptists on Mission or United Methodist Committee on Relief) or a professional contractor managed by the state.
So far, volunteer groups have completed STEP repair work on 20 homes with work in progress on another 31 homes. Work is set to begin soon on hundreds more homes whose owners have already signed up for the program.
The STEP program provides rapid, partial repairs to homes to make them livable and allows survivors to leave temporary housing and return home. The STEP program does not return a home to its pre-storm condition, but it does make it possible for families to return home while long-term repairs take place.
Among the kinds of repairs made through the STEP program:
- Exterior repairs include secure and watertight doors, windows and roof, and safe entrances.
- The home’s electrical and plumbing systems will be made safe and operational.
- Interior repairs include a functional kitchen – including a base cabinet under the sink, a surface to prepare food,, basic refrigeration and cooking surfaces, a working sink – and a functional, private bathroom.
More information about the STEP program is available at www.ncdps.gov/florencestep. Eligible homeowners may also visit the application portal at www.ncstepflorence.com or call (833) 257-1100 Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
“We want to make sure that every homeowner who may qualify for this repair program has the opportunity to do so, but time is running out to sign up,” Gov. Cooper said. "If you've been notified that the STEP program may be a good fit to help your family recover from Hurricane Florence, I urge you to apply now."
The cost of the STEP program is being shared by the State of North Carolina and FEMA. There is no cost to homeowners to participate in the voluntary STEP program.
For survivors who choose to participate in the STEP program, completion of STEP repairs will end their eligibility for a FEMA travel trailer or mobile home and for Transitional Sheltering Assistance to stay in a hotel.