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Originally published: 2013-11-04 11:00:26
Last modified: 2013-11-04 11:01:11

FEMA flood aid expanded in Western NC

Federal aid will now be available to three more Western North Carolina counties affected by severe storms, floods and mudslides in July.


The president on Tuesday offered a federal disaster declaration for the counties of Catawba, Lincoln and Wilkes to aid state and local recovery efforts from the July 27 storms.


Flood aid was approved in September for 13 other mountain counties, including Ashe, Avery and Watauga, for the storm damages that occurred July 3-13. But FEMA initially denied funding for Catawba, Lincoln and Wilkes because the two storms were considered separate events, and the July 27 flooding damages did not meet the threshold to qualify for federal assistance.


The state appealed the decision to the Federal Emergency Management Agency,  showing that damages had exceeded the necessary level. Sen. Kay Hagan also sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in support of the appeal.


The three counties -- along with the 13 previously approved -- are now eligible for federal funds to pay 75 percent of infrastructure repairs to roads, bridges, schools and other public property; for debris removal from public areas; and for emergency protective measures. Money is also available to implement hazard mitigation steps statewide to strengthen infrastructure and prevent future storm damage.


Approved projects are paid to eligible local governments and certain private nonprofits through the state from funding provided by FEMA.


"This declaration means that North Carolina will receive more than $10 million in federal aid to help these communities repair their public infrastructure," Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement. "These communities did a great job responding to the devastating floods, and now we can help them recover financially."


The series of severe thunderstorms and heavy rains dumped between 10 and 20 inches of rain across the foothills and mountains in July, according to the governor's office. The record-breaking rainfall damaged roads, bridges, culverts, public utilities, parks and some schools in many counties.


In a separate request earlier this summer, the governor sought and received federal aid specifically for families and business owners to help them recover from the flooding.


McCrory also provided state funds to help families recover from the flooding.


Additionally, the state requested and received money from the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help pay for road repairs and provide financial assistance for farmers impacted by the summer floods.

 

Loans also available


Deadlines also are approaching for U.S. Small Business Administration loans for business and nonprofit damages related to the Jan. 30 and July 3-13 floods.


For the January damage, businesses may apply through Nov. 15 to receive working capital loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration for damages related to the Jan. 30 flooding. Loans are available to small businesses, agricultural cooperatives and private nonprofits.


The Economic Injury Disaster Loans provide up to $2 million at 2.875 percent for private nonprofits and at 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years. The loans are intended to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other expenses that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred.


Those loans are available in Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Watauga, and Wilkes counties, as well as Johnson County, Tenn.


For the July 3-13 loans, the deadline is Nov. 25 for private nonprofit organizations. These loans are available for private nonprofits in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Watauga and Yancey counties, as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.


Low-interest loans are available for physical losses, up to a limit, or for unmet working capital needs. Approved loans can be increased for protective measures to lessen similar future damages.


A June 25, 2014, deadline is in place for economic injury applications for the July flooding.


More information about both loans is available at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela, by calling 800-659-2955 or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.