Unemployment, Loans, & FEMA Stuff

Hey, Ocracoke! If you're unemployed, sign up for unemployment ASAP.

At Friday's meeting for Ocracoke business owners, Antwon Keith of the NC Division of Employment Security told the gathering that their employees should sign up for regular unemployment right away. 

As soon as Ocracoke gets approved for FEMA individual assistance (that's in the works), then employment will change over to Disaster Unemployment.

Here's the difference: to receive regular unemployment, there's a weeklong waiting period and you have to continue to look for work. And your unemployment benefits are debited from your employer's account. Once disaster unemployment is in place, the requirements change. There's no waiting period, you don't have to look for work, and your employer isn't charged. Another added bonus is that self-employed people can qualify for disaster unemployment. 

Ginger O'Neal of the Small Business Center at the College of the Albemarle provided information about help for businesses affected by Dorian. Disaster recovery funding can take some time, she explained, so the SBC partners with Thread Capital, which will provide Rapid Recovery Loans of up to $50,000 at zero interest for six months as a bridge to help with immediate repairs. These loans can keep a business afloat until they "figure out what comes next," she said.

County manager Kris Noble spoke up to say that county and state officials are "working every day on getting disaster assistance for Ocracoke." As she explained, Governor Cooper made the official request for FEMA Public Assistance last Friday, September 13th, and it awaits the president's signature. [It was signed today, September 21st.]

"There are more teams on the island today with FEMA to do assessments [for Individual Assistance]," Kris said. "The governor didn't want to hold up Public Assistance declaration, and we had all the numbers for that, so he submitted it." 

Public Assistance from FEMA can fund debris removal (including going down side roads) and emergency protective measures, followed by more permanent recovery work such as repairing/rebuilding roads and bridge, water control facilities, public buildings, public utilities, parks, recreational, and other facilities.

Individual Assistance can provide temporary housing, home repair, home replacement, child care expenses, moving and storage assistance, disaster-caused damages to essential household items, clothing, tools required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies). 

FEMA does not help with non-primary residences or businesses. For help with businesses, officials direct owners to the Small Business Administration for low-interest, longterm loans.