Many flood victims still waiting for relief

CorrespondentAugust 27, 2013 

— Help arrived quick, but with the waters gone, flood victims have waited weeks for further relief.

More than 100 people flushed from their homes by extraordinary rainfall in late June have applied for disaster-relief grants.

Most applications are still under review. A window remains open until Sept. 13 to apply for a low-interest loan through the federal Small Business Administration, at disasterloan.sba.gov.

To apply for relief grants from the state, people must first apply, then be rejected for a federal loan.

Grant money will be administered by the county’s Department of Social Services, though little has been distributed so far.

Musician Danny Mason tried to catch a taxi June 30, but cabs could not reach downtown Carrboro because of flooded roads. When he made it home to Camelot Village, he was surprised to see rubber rafts and emergency workers.

“My landlord Brad was there. He asked me what I wanted out of the apartment.” Mason had on dress shoes, so he asked for sneakers.

“My bass guitar, my pride and joy, was destroyed,” Mason said. He also lost, “a lot of unpolished music on my computer that I’m working on,” he said. “Anything below waist-level, my digital camera, and a lot of odds and ends stuff that was only valuable to me.”

Many residents got immediate aid after the rain in the form of debit cards for food and free trips through the PTA Thrift Shop.

Mason said he went to a Red Cross relief station and got a card with close to $200 on it. He bought food, clothing and shoes.

At Camelot Village, 68 of 106 units were damaged; at Booker Creek, 22 of 124 units were damaged, according to a Town of Chapel Hill news release from July. In Carrboro, residents at Rocky Brook trailer park and one Carol Street home had to evacuate.

Warren Moore, Individual Assistance program manager for N.C. Emergency Management, said on Aug. 15 that 81 people had applied for disaster assistance. He said they had approved 32 applications and had another 16 that were pending approval.

Julia Jarema, communications officer for emergency management with the Department of Public Safety, said in addition to those 81 people, 27 were working with the Small Business Administration for loans.

“The first thing you do is call your insurance company,” Jarema said. “If you don’t have insurance or don’t have enough insurance, the next stop is SBA.”

The loans must be paid back, but carry small interest and come in generally larger amounts than the grants available for those who don’t qualify.

“The grants are not for people to purchase big-screen TVs,” Jarema said. “It’s not for handheld electronic devices. The goal is to help get people back on their feet.”

Mason is now living at his friend Lisa Crumpton’s place. Crumpton said the need for assistance remains high, even though some flood victims have moved back in after cleaning up.

“I don’t think they’d want to, but I don’t really know,” she said. “This could happen again, right?”

Mason and his landlord stripped the damaged carpet and all the drywall below waistline. Southern Rail owners Mike and Christie Benson also helped, he said.

“That was the painful part, tearing out the place that was your sanctuary,” he said. “To see something that devastating, but at the same time, you’ve got to keep the message, keep smiling.”

Hartwell: 504-251-6670

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