18John Mills FEMA  Residents of the Hope Mills area who suffered longterm damage as a result of both Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew have been granted additional time to get assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Following a request from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, FEMA extended the deadline to apply for assistance in Cumberland County to Thursday, Dec. 13.

“The deadline is usually 60 days,’’ said John Mills, a representative with FEMA in Washington, D.C. “That’s just the initial registration. People can stay in touch to get assistance after the deadline.’’

Mills said those who qualify for basic FEMA assistance include anyone who suffered serious hurricane damage from either storm to their primary residence and those who have damage or other needs not specifically covered by insurance.

“FEMA by law cannot duplicate insurance payments,’’ Mills said.

Mills was in the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg area just before the storms arrived. He noted there was a lot of flooding locally.

According to the most recent statistics provided by FEMA, $869 million in disaster aid has been paid to the state of North Carolina.

Cumberland County is one of 34 North Carolina counties designated to receive financial relief from the federal government.

The county has received $13.8 million in state and federal funds, with $4.2 million going to 1,700 homeowners and renters.

There have been 180 flood insurance claims filed with $3.3 million in claims paid.

As of Nov. 13, more than $6.3 million in U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans have been approved for 280 homeowners and 20 businesses.

FEMA has a disaster recovery center open six days a week in the Social Services Building at 1225 Ramsey St. in Fayetteville. Mills said the center will remain open based on community need. So far it has had 3,000 visits, and will likely remain open until around the time the deadline for registering on Dec. 13 approaches.

Mills said those in need of financial help can contact both FEMA and the Small Business Administration at the center.

“In a big disaster like this, the (Small Business Administration) makes disaster loans to homeowners and renters, not just businesses,’’ Mills said.  “The FEMA money is grants and flood insurance payments. SBA does loans, FEMA doesn’t.’’

FEMA provides you with a grant for temporary rental assistance if your primary residence was made uninhabitable by the hurricane. Homeowners may also be able to get money from FEMA for basic home repairs or to help survivors replace personal property that was destroyed.

In some cases, FEMA coordinates with charitable, nonprofit and faith-based organizations that are working with people in the affected areas.

“In some cases, people will receive money from FEMA,’’ Mills said. “Some people may receive money and assistance from a charitable organization.

“You’ve seen a lot of what’s been going on, neighbors helping each other out, church groups doing good work. This is an excellent opportunity for young people that want to volunteer with local organizations to give of their time to help folks who are still struggling.’’

To reach FEMA directly, Mills said the best number to call is 800-621-3362. There is also information on the internet at DisasterAssistance.gov.

Photo: John Mills, FEMA representative

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