By Charlotte Smith
Many have suffered in Bladen County from Hurricane Florence’s wrath. Homes have been destroyed, businesses have been demolished and property was deformed from the winds and rain that came with the storm.
Carl Rea, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mitigation representative, is meeting with area civic organizations to answer questions and distribute information on behalf of the federal organization. Last week Rea met with the Kiwanis Club of Elizabethtown and has plans to meet with other local organizations in the near future.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed the executive order creating the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.
FEMA’s mission is to lead America to prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disasters, according to their website. The agency’s vision is “A Nation Prepared”.
Rea echoed these objectives with his presentation to the local non-profit last Tuesday at Cindy’s Restaurant in Elizabethtown.
A 54 page booklet on the National Flood Insurance Program and a 55 page magazine on Taking Shelter from the Storm; Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business was distributed to those citizens in attendance.
The message Rea brought was clear, everyone should purchase a flood insurance policy. One inch of flood water in the house will cost $25,000 in damages according to Rea. Property owners with flood insurance will be able to receive more assistance with damages by having insurance than they will receive from FEMA he explained.
Elevation certificates are needed for every property to help owners know what the flood risk is for their property. “I can’t stress this enough,” Rea said.
Property owners have to invest in the elevation certificates themselves by hiring a surveyor or a civil engineer. The cost ranges from $350 up to $500 Rea continued.
“I’d love to have realtors start encouraging elevation certificates,” Rea said.
He explained there are different zones in an elevation certificate. The A zone is the most dangerous and the X zone is least dangerous zone when evaluating the certificate for flooding potential.
The certificate is needed in order to purchase flood insurance.
“We never recommend a contractor or an independent business,” Rea said.
He did verify FEMA is the underwriter for most of all flood insurance policies no matter what company the insurance policy is purchased through. He also confirmed the Small Business Center not only offers small businesses loans, but they also offer home owners loans after a national disaster to assist with recovery efforts.
When asked about what citizens may do when they are not receiving the assistance they need with damages since Hurricane Florence Rea added, “If you don’t get the answers you want, appeal appeal appeal. The squeaky wheel gets to oil.”
There are many departments and steps FEMA utilizes to assist with disasters. Teams go out to areas hit by disasters, they do a study of the damages, they analyze all the data collected and then give the affected area a set amount of money to assist in the recovery process Rea explained. FEMA distributes the money to the state and then the state distributes the money to the local areas in need of the funding.
Slide show of damages in Bladen County since Hurricane Florence:
The mitigation department assists areas in building property back better and stronger. When asked about the small businesses in Bladenboro, the US Highway 701 bridge, the dike in Kelly and the cemetery in Elizabethtown, Rea agreed all those mentioned should be assessed by FEMA mitigation representatives to see how the properties could be restored better and stronger.
Spraying the county for mosquitoes and items of that nature would be a county issue and not a FEMA mitigation case Rea explained.
Before closing Rea encouraged anyone needing assistance to contact 1-800-427-4661 or visit fema.gov.Share: