FEMA individual assistance not likely for Lowcountry after Dorian

Reality Check

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been a fixture in South Carolina for the last few years, but the damage from Dorian not likely enough to qualify for individual assistance.

FEMA’s individual assistance program is not automatically activated after natural disasters. It requires a disaster declaration from the President. That usually happens after the state gathers damage assessments from the counties.

“The state is the actual applicant,” said Berkeley County Director of Emergency Preparedness, Ben Almquist. “We’re just a sub-applicant of the state.”

Almquist says the door is not closed on that possibility since the damage assessments are not complete.

However, the clock is ticking and the state is not optimistic.

” We’re continuing with local damage assessments based on county requests. Much like during Hurricane Irma, it does not look like we’ll be eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance,” said South Carolina Emergency Management Division spokesman Derrec Becker.

Becker says, FEMA’s unwritten threshold for individual approximately “100 homes or businesses destroyed”.

Thankfully we don’t appear to have that kind of damage, but for those who do, not having FEMA’s assistance is a major blow.

Becker suggests reaching out to non-profits and volunteer groups who can help.

” If residents have damages that they cannot have repaired through insurance or some other personal means, they should reach out to local volunteer groups on their area by calling 211,” said Becker. 

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