Where is FEMA?

Updated 8 weeks ago Sundae Horn
Where is FEMA?

UPDATE 9/20/19: We continue to wait for the President to act while FEMA has been to Ocracoke.

Today, NC Governor Roy Cooper's office issued a statement on the state's response to Ocracoke post-Hurricane Dorian. Read it here

As of today, there has not been any new information sent out by Hyde County. But on Wednesday and Thursday, Carol Pahl (our commissioner's wife) spent some time of Facebook providing information to those who were lucky enough to stumble upon her comments. Here's what she commented "New info this morning...the inspectors were on the island yesterday. This is a part of FEMA flood insurance, and not FEMA disaster declaration. And it is a cash reimbursement! There are 300 houses that could qualify if they meet the 50% damage rule. There are lots of rules and regulations of course. I expect soon you will be hearing something official. Everything is in the works now but is quite complicated including certain exceptions and requirements for meeting other codes and satisfying all the different players such as local and state building codes. Also many if not most of the homes are contributing historical structures in the historic district which also has to be addressed just for one more complication! Letters will be going out to all the homeowners that are eligible as soon as possible. This is for the FEAM flood insurance portion. There is another possible way of receiving money for elevating a home that might apply if a homeowner does not have flood insurance and that process has also begun. We have to have patience as this is only one thing going on among all the other issues and day to day planning and emergencies. It seems like everyday brings new challenges to all the people behind the scenes that no one sees or hears from because there just is not enough time in the day to get everything done that will matter to all of us. It would be a good thing to have someone in charge of disseminating info. That would need to be a separate person. it takes time to write up and distribute factual info and I can tell you, no one person from the  county has that kind of time just now. Please do not pick on [our county commissioner] Tom. You have no idea how hard he is working...to the detriment of his own business and home."

Again, there you have it! My reply to her was that she is providing more information than the county officials, and that the county should make sharing that information a priority. 

As always, we will try to keep you posted.

UPDATE 9/14/19 Gov. Cooper made a formal request to Pres. Trump.After meeting with POTUS on Monday, NC governor Roy Cooper wrote a letter on Friday, September 13 requesting that the president declare a major disaster declaration for several counties in N.C., including Hyde, which includes Ocracoke. 

You can read the governor's letter here: https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/Hurricane-Dorian-Disaster-Declaration-Request.pdf

Getting FEMA to declare us a national natural disaster is a process. The good news is that the process is in process.The Ocracoke social media and coconut telegraph lines are buzzing with questions and complaints about FEMA. When are they coming, why aren't they here yet, it's Gov. Roy Cooper's fault, it's Donald Trump's fault, it's Hyde County's fault (the fault is usually doled out according to the accuser's political persuasion), how will they help, who will they help, they aren't coming, they are coming, they're here, they came and went..... on and on and on. 

I asked Hyde County PIO Donnie Shumate what the deal was and he said the county put out a statement on Monday. How did we all miss it? (Even me, and I've been glued to my phone looking for reliable info to share.) (I haven't been able to talk to many people in person because my own house was flooded and I'm mostly home.)

Donnie says the information put out on Monday hasn't changed. Here it is: 

Ocracoke Island's Status of Disaster Declaration

09/09/2019 - Before a storm, the state and federal authorities can declare a pre-disaster emergency. This was done prior to Dorian making landfall. This allows funding for “emergency protective measures” that can include personnel, equipment, supplies, and evacuation assistance. 

After an event, local and state officials work together to get all the information needed for the disaster declaration application compiled and submitted to the federal authorities. This work has been finalized today. Everything that the local government is required to do has been completed and submitted. 

While it is not yet promised, the sheer level of destruction documented on Ocracoke leads county officials to believe that we will be declared a disaster. We also expect a disaster recovery center with FEMA and other resources to be setup within a week.

Also, on September 9th, Governor Cooper's office issued a statement that included this part about FEMA: "Governor Roy Cooper will visit affected coastal areas again today and has directed North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM) to continue efforts with state and local partners, including non-profits, to deliver recovery aid to North Carolinians in need.

As recovery from Hurricane Dorian continues, NCEM has requested assistance from FEMA in conducting joint preliminary damage assessments in storm-affected counties. The assessments will begin this week and are the first step in determining the scope of Hurricane Dorian’s damage."

On Wednesday, Donnie Shumate told me that FEMA had been on the island and met with Hyde County Emergency Manager Justin Gibbs for a "preliminary damage assessment." Donnie added that it's not a quick process getting the declaration. 

Ocracoke's county commissioner is Tom Pahl, who is no longer answering my texts (that's another story and it's a good one), has not made a social media statement about FEMA. 

But his wife, Carol Pahl, who is presumably in the know, comments on others' Facebook posts. One sample comment from earlier today is: "It is a process and everything is in motion. We took a bit of extra time to get the highest disaster level funding we could apply for. Everything is proceeding as it should."

So there you have it! 

We will wait and see. Back to cleaning up the poo-water-soaked walls and floors of my house. I'm three days behind in cleaning up because I evacuated for the storm. (Stay tuned for that story.)

 

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