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Business owners, individuals can apply now for federal aid

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By Ashley Heffernan
aheffernan@scbiznews.com
Published Oct. 6, 2015

Some S.C. individuals and business owners with losses resulting from the recent severe storms and flooding can begin applying for federal assistance today.

President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for parts of South Carolina, which makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland and Williamsburg counties, according to a news release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Gov. Nikki Haley said she expects more counties to be added to the list as FEMA personnel continue surveying damage from the air today and on the ground on Wednesday.

“There is not a county, one of the 46 counties, that should think they have been excluded from anything. This is about the fact that we’re going to be working with your county closer to see what you need,” Haley said during a news conference in West Columbia. “My goal is to make sure that anybody and everybody that is in a county has the availability of resources that FEMA will provide.”

President Barack Obama talked with Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday to express empathy for flood victims and to offer federal assistance. (Photo/Pete Souza for the White House)President Barack Obama talked with Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday to express empathy for flood victims and to offer federal assistance. (Photo/Pete Souza for the White House)
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FEMA said assistance can include the following:

  • Rental payments through FEMA 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.
  • Grants from FEMA for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.
  • 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. FEMA is funding the grants at 75% of total eligible costs, with the remaining 25% funded by the state.
  • Unemployment payments, funded by FEMA and administered by the state, of 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.
  • Low-interest loans through the Small Business Administration 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.
  • Loans through the SBA of up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, nonprofit 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.
  • Loans through the Farm Service Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture of up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.
  • Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; and advisory assistance for legal, veterans’ benefits and Social Security matters.

State government and some local governments, as well as certain private nonprofit organizations are also eligible for federal, cost-shared funding. Eligible counties include Berkeley, Charleston, Clarendon, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and Williamsburg. All S.C. counties are also eligible for federal hazard-mitigation funding on a cost-sharing basis, the news release said.

W. Michael Moore was named the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the state. He said in the news release that additional counties may be designated for assistance as damage assessments continue.

Assistance can be applied for online or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

The S.C. Department of Commerce has also set up a phone line at 803-737-8651, in the operations center of the S.C. Emergency Management Division, and an email address for business owners who need assistance with flood recovery, according to spokeswoman Adrienne Fairwell.

Licia Jackson contributed to this report. Reach staff writer Ashley Heffernan at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyBHeff on Twitter.

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