Tuesday, November 20, 2018

More Than 720,000 North Carolinians Receive Disaster Food Assistance After Hurricane Florence

<p>More than 720,000 North Carolinians in 304,000 households affected by Hurricane Florence received assistance buying food over the past seven weeks, Governor Roy Cooper announced today.</p>
Nov 20, 2018

More than 720,000 North Carolinians in 304,000 households affected by Hurricane Florence received assistance buying food over the past seven weeks, Governor Roy Cooper announced today.

“When your life has just been turned upside down by a disaster, help feeding your family is critical,” Governor Cooper said. “Disaster food assistance helped families get through those first few weeks after Florence hit.”

Last week marked the culmination of disaster food assistance in 34 counties impacted by Hurricane Florence and administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with federal and local government partners. 

“The devastation of Hurricane Florence left many North Carolinian families in urgent need of food assistance.  Fortunately, 720 ,000 people were able to take advantage of this help quickly and easily,”  said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

The assistance, from the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or “D-SNAP,” was made available in counties declared eligible under federal disaster declarations.

DHHS took several steps to make disaster food assistance as accessible as possible for eligible people and families. This included: 

  • Working with the US Department of Agriculture to extend the traditional application period from five to eight days. 
  • Securing more than 300,000 additional Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and distributing them to all 34 counties. 
  • Allowing individuals from eligible counties to apply for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) in any disaster county, not only their county of residence. 

DHHS also sought and received federal authority from the USDA to provide temporary flexibilities for families already receiving help buying food through the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) program. These included: 

  • Allowing families already enrolled in the FNS program who were not able to prepare food at home due to the storm to purchase hot meals. 
  • Providing replacement benefits for families who lost food purchased with their benefits due to the storm and gave them extra time to report the loss to receive replacement benefits. Families had until Oct. 15 to request a replacement. 
  • Issuing automatic supplement benefits to some households receiving less than the disaster dollar amount, bringing them equal to the disaster allotted amount. 
  • Automatically renewing benefits for FNS households in the 34 counties for six months, so residents can concentrate on recovery from the storm.  
  • Allowing individuals to receive credit for disaster-related expenses incurred prior to the storm’s landfall. 
  • Many families living in affected areas enrolled in a separate program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), also automatically received one month of food benefits into their eWIC benefit account.
  • Additional help is available to storm survivors working to recover. North Carolina homeowners and renters who sustained property damage or loss caused by Hurricane Florence have until December 13, 2018 to register for Individual Assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Individual Assistance program provides assistance to homeowners and renters with temporary housing, essential home repairs, personal property replacement, and serious disaster-related needs. 

To register for help from FEMA, North Carolinians can:

  • Visit DisasterAssistance.gov or Disaster Assistance.gov/es for Spanish.
  • Call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY) anytime from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. local time seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.
  • Visit a disaster recovery center. To find center locations and current hours, download the FEMA mobile app in English or Spanish, use the ReadyNC app, or visit FEMA.gov/DRC. 

People impacted by Hurricane Florence can also call 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162, or text FLORENCE to 898211, to reach operators who can provide housing, recovery and other post-storm assistance-related information. The information line is staffed around-the-clock. Other resources can be found by visiting www.ncdps.gov/florence.

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