Benson search fails to find missing man
Benson police on Tuesday conducted another physical search for Christopher Cole Thomas, the Florida man last seen in Benson on Nov. 25.
More than 40 law enforcement officers took part in Tuesday’s search, which failed to find Thomas. Joining Benson police were Johnston County sheriff’s deputies and agents with the State Bureau of Investigation.
The town once again appealed to the public for help. “If you live in the Benson area, we request that you continue to search your personal buildings, land and grounds for anything suspicious,” the town said in a news release.
At about 3 a.m. on Nov. 25, Benson police received a report of a missing person. Two friends said they had been traveling with Thomas on Interstate 40 when he stopped in Benson while en route to Durham.
As Thomas and his friends were driving through a Benson neighborhood – North Elm Street and East Morgan Street – Thomas stopped the car, got out and ran away, his friends said. The friends tried to find him but couldn’t and reported him missing.
“The investigation remains underway, and we will continue to conduct interviews, initiate searches and follow all leads, with a goal of finding Cole and reuniting him with his family,” the town said. “Until that time comes, we ask that you continue to offer your support and encouragement to his parents, other family members and friends.”
Benson police ask anyone with information about Thomas to call Chief Kenneth Edwards or Capt. Greg Percy at 919-894-2091, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Even the smallest piece of information could turn out to be important to the case,” the town said.
Storm help available but deadline looms
Johnston County residents don’t have to return to their flood-damaged homes, or at least to their homes as they knew them.
Johnston County Emergency Services is serving as the conduit for a state hazard-mitigation program that will either buy or elevate flood-damaged homes.
In the case of buying homes, the program pays pre-disaster fair-market valued based on a certified appraisal. After the purchase, the county razes the home and any another buildings on the property. The land is deeded to local government, which must maintain it as open space.
If a Johnston family wants to raise its home, the house must be structurally capable of being elevated safely. After that, the homeowner must maintain flood insurance for the life of the house.
Both options require the following documentation to apply to the state:
▪ Flood insurance declaration page.
▪ Photos of each side of all structures on the property.
▪ Elevation certificate if you have one.
Applications are subject to approval from N.C. Emergency Management and FEMA.
To apply, call the Johnston County Emergency Services hazard-mitigation team at 919-989-5050. A team member will schedule a time to meet with you to complete your application. Applications are due by Jan. 13.
Jan. 9 is deadline for SBA disaster loans
Jan. 9 is the last day for businesses, nonprofits, homeowners and renters to apply for a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Loans are available in Johnston County because of damage from Hurricane Matthew.
Interest rates are as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for private nonprofits and 1.563 percent for homeowners and renters. Loan terms can be up to 30 years.
To be considered for disaster assistance, applicants should register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or download the FEMA mobile app. If the online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or video-relay services should call 800-621-3362.
Applicants may apply online via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Loan applications can be downloaded from www.sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications can be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas 76155.