The Small Business Administration on Wednesday granted Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration for September’s Hurricane Dorian, the first step toward the state setting up an individual assistance program for areas most impacted by the storm.
After the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration for individual assistance in four hard-hit counties, Cooper announced he was requesting the SBA declaration and supplementing it with a state-funded individual assistance program.
Cooper signed the state disaster declaration Thursday, creating a state-funded individual assistance program similar to FEMA’s that is expected to allow those in impacted areas who failed to qualify for an SBA loan to access funds. The state program will be funded by the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund.
In a prepared statement Wednesday, Cooper said, “The Small Business Administration’s approval of North Carolina’s disaster request is an important step to getting more resources to the people impacted by Hurricane Dorian.”
Dorian made landfall Sept. 6 on the Outer Banks as a Category 1 storm. A record-setting storm surge spilled across Ocracoke Island, inundating hundreds of structures.
The SBA’s disaster declaration is effective for Carteret, Dare, Hyde and New Hanover counties, as well as the contiguous Beaufort, Brunswick, Craven, Currituck, Jones, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Tyrrell and Washington counties.
Per the disaster declaration notice, interest rates are 3.5% for homeowners with credit elsewhere and 1.75% for those without credit elsewhere. Businesses with credit elsewhere are eligible for loans with an 8% interest rate, dropping to 4% for those without credit elsewhere.
Friday morning, FEMA announced it had granted Cooper’s request for a declaration for public assistance in 12 additional counties, including Beaufort, Camden, Columbus, Greene, Hoke, Lenoir, Onslow, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson and Wayne.
The declaration brings the total number of counties eligible for public assistance to 26. Governments, state agencies and some non-profits in those counties can apply for cost-sharing programs to aid with the removal of storm debris, to make repairs to facilities and to fix storm-damaged infrastructure.
This story was produced with financial support from Report for America/GroundTruth Project, the North Carolina Community Foundation and the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund. The News & Observer maintains full editorial control of the work.