Image of a woman sitting with a man listening and talking to him about assistance options.

Individual Assistance

People, families and businesses may need help recovering after an emergency. There are a number of agencies and programs to help meet the different needs. There may be help with food, housing, financial aid, volunteers to help fix homes, disaster unemployment assistance, energy assistance, legal counseling, crisis counseling or other services.

Housing Assistance

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In larger disasters, N.C. Emergency Management works with local areas and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The two agencies work to find short-term and long-term temporary housing for people displaced by the disaster. A number of state and federal programs can help those people that qualify find safe, secure and clean housing. These programs work with people while their homes are fixed or rebuilt.

Who is Able to Get Help: Renters and homeowners in any of the disaster-impacted counties declared for federal Individual Assistance. Others ways that people who need help after a disaster can get this help is if you do not have insurance or if your policy does not cover temporary rentals. You will need to apply for this help. Note: the home must be the person's main home.

Housing Solutions

Temporary rental assistance
Qualified people can get financial aid for rental help for two months. They are sent to rentals that are, preferably, near their damaged homes. There maybe extra help for those who still need help after the first two months.

Transitional Shelter Assistance
Certain areas may have a shortage of rentals. People who cannot live in their homes but cannot get into rentals can stay in hotels or motels for a limited time. This is only while FEMA looks for other available short-term rentals. The state and federal government pays the hotel bill is paid on behalf of the people. To be able to get help, people must first apply for federal help through FEMA and meet the following:

  • They must be able to get for federal disaster help, and
  • The person's main home must be in one of the counties where the transitional shelter program has been activated.

Temporary Housing Units
Two types of made housing (2 or 3 bedroom models) may be put in as a last resort in areas with very limited rentals. Both models come with all of the furniture, a stove, refrigerator and microwave oven. To speed the recovery process, the houses will be put in for a short time period on a person's property, or as close as possible. This means that people can fix or rebuild their homes. To get this help, people must sign up with FEMA.

Disaster Housing
The Disaster Housing program works with qualified people and families to fix or replace homes that were damaged or destroyed in a federal- or state-declared disaster. Program funding is given through a special appropriation from the N.C. General Assembly through the Crisis Housing Assistance Fund for key unmet needs. How To Apply: People who need a place to live while repairs are made on their homes should sign up with FEMA for help. The ways to sign up are:

  • Calling the FEMA helpline number is 800-621-3362 or TTY at 800-462-7585
  • Registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or at FEMA.gov by using a tablet.
  • Visiting a disaster recovery center to get face-to-face assistance. To find the nearest center, go to the DRC locator.

Financial Assistance

Image of a North Carolina Emergency Management staffer talking to a man about assistance

In some disasters, people can get financial help in the form of low-interest loans or grants. These can help renters and homeowners get back on their feet. The funds can be used only for certain things, such as replacing essential personal belongings, fixing vehicles, paying for disaster-related medical costs, and fixing or rebuilding homes.

To get federal financial help, the governor must first ask and get an individual help disaster declaration. Then, those people in the disaster-declared counties can sign-up with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They must fill out a disaster loan application from the Small Business Administration.

Even if homeowners and renters don't want a loan or don't expect to get a loan, they should still fill out and return the SBA application. A filled out SBA loan application is needed in order to get for state and FEMA grants.

When damage is assessed, the applicant must provide several items to prove ownership. Here is a complete list of the items an applicant must provide for a damage assessment. 

SBA loans can be used to pay for disaster-related damages for those homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and nonprofit groups in impacted counties who are able to get them. People with home-based businesses or rental property who have been affected by the storm may also be able to get SBA loans.

Homeowners can borrow as much as $200,000 to fix or replace their main home. Homeowners and renters can borrow as much as $40,000 to replace personal property lost in the disaster.

Businesses can borrow up to $2 million to fix or replace disaster-damaged real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The SBA also gives small business owners and most private nonprofit groups economic injury disaster loans for ongoing business expenses to recover from the economic impact of a disaster. Economic injury disaster loans are available even if the business didn't have physical damages.

Loan amounts and terms are figured out on a case-by-case basis. Interest rates are very low. Payment terms as long as 30 years are intended to make the loans affordable.

Unemployment Help

Those workers or business owners who temporarily or permanently lose their jobs due to the disaster may can get financial help. The N.C. Employment Security Commission offers Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) for those in federally-declared counties whose jobs or businesses were impacted by damage from the disaster. Workers or business owners meeting the following may be able to get these benefits:

  • People who are unemployed due to the disaster, and do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits;
  • Self-employed people and small business owners who lost income due to the disaster;
  • People who were kept from working due to an injury caused by the disaster;
  • People who have become the major supplier of household income due to the disaster-related death or injury of the previous major supplier of household income;
  • People who are not able to get to their job or self-employment location because they must travel through the affected area and are stopped from doing so by the disaster; or
  • People who were to begin a job or self-employment but were stopped by the disaster.

DUA is funded entirely by the federal government and is not available in every disaster.

For more information, go to the N.C. Division of Employment Security website about Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

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