FEMA denies North Carolina’s application for individual assistance for Dorian victims

One of the dozens of homes that have been demolished in Ocracoke after being flooded out by Hurricane Dorian. [Connie Leinbach/Ocracoke Observer]

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied North Carolina’s application to provide assistance to individuals in Dare, Hyde, Carteret and New Hanover counties who suffered losses due to Hurricane Dorian.

“Based on our review of all the information available, including the results of joint federal, state, and local government Preliminary Damage Assessments it has been determined that the impact to individuals and households from this event is not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance,” said Jeff Byard, Associate Administrator for FEMA’s Office of Response and Recovery in a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper sent Tuesday.

Sixth District state Rep. Bobby Hanig of Currituck County confirmed to OBX Today on Wednesday morning that the request had been denied. A copy of the letter began circulating on Facebook late Tuesday.

“I will be working at the state level to find funding to help the folks that are in need,” Hanig said.

The letter said Gov. Cooper has 30 days to appeal the ruling with FEMA’s Region IV office in Atlanta.

“This is disappointing news for families who lost everything in Hurricane Dorian and still need help,” said Ford Porter, spokesperson for Gov. Cooper.

“The Governor will continue to work with our federal and state partners and North Carolina’s congressional delegation to determine a path forward to deliver assistance to those who need it,” said Porter.

Last Friday, FEMA approved providing reimbursement to local governments for the costs of debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities. Certain private non-profit organizations can also be eligible for reimbursement.

Ocracoke’s county commissioner, Tom Pahl, told The Ocracoke Observer he was disappointed by the decision noting the impact Dorian has had on individuals on the island. “It hurts the most to be denied by the federal government the kind of assistance other people have received in similar circumstances,” he said.

Pahl said a meeting was scheduled Wednesday at 1 p.m. with Hyde County officials and others, including the governor’s office, to see what the next steps will be. The meeting agenda will include discussing an appeal and what state resources would come into play in the absence of the individual assistance by the federal government. “It’s not like we haven’t had these conversations before,” he said. “But with the official denial, we want to have clear commitments and answers.”

Word spread on social media this morning that ABC News wanted to do a remote interview on how the community was reacting to the Individual Assistance denial. Approximately 100 people showed up. Islanders Stephanie O’Neal, Jason Wells and Tom Pahl expressed their dismay via cell phone and a videographer, The Ocracoke Observer reported.

Third District Congressman Greg Murphy provided a statement this morning via his press secretary.

“I am disappointed to hear that Individual Assistance for Hurricane Dorian has been denied under the requirements set forth in the 1987 Stafford Act. That said we are committed to working with the Governor to explore all avenues, either appeal or seeking a state disaster declaration, that will provide relief to those in need as quickly as possible.”

Some local officials expressed concerns early on that FEMA’s damage threshold may not be met from the storm that made landfall on Hatteras Island on September 6.

Byard was nominated by President Trump to become the new administrator of FEMA, but CNN reported last month that the White House was going to withdraw his nomination over a personal issue.

The FEMA administrator position, which must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, has been vacant since Brock Long resigned in March.

Letter from FEMA to Gov. Cooper.

This is a developing story, stay with OBX Today for more details.

About Sam Walker 519 Articles
Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 and Classic Rock 92.3. Reach him at [email protected]


  1. This is the new direction FEMA will be taking because they just don’t have the funds. Ask the people of Panama City FL. A year later and FEMA has done very little to help them either.

      • Virginia, FACTS for the foulmouthed deplorable :FEMA money was reprogrammed to the border, $155 million came from the disaster relief fund base budget. The remaining $3.4 million was transferred from disaster mitigation, which includes grant funds that allow local jurisdictions susceptible to natural disasters to undertake infrastructure projects that limit future disaster risks. Thanks trump.

        • Oh, c’mon, kbb. You should know better by now than to come at Trumptards with facts. It makes them all fidgety and nervous. Too many facts may even make their heads explode, but don’t worry about that. There’s nothing in those heads that’ll result in much of a mess.

  2. I do think it’s interesting that all these hard core ‘our ancestors have lived here for centuries and you don’t tell us when to evacuate’ people who made light of the storm as it was coming are suddenly all about ‘I need help!!’

    • so hey Barb–as a resident — our island not receiving FEMA had absolutely nothing to do with how seriously we took the storm or who stayed vs who left. The help we need now is salvaging our homes and businesses so we can become contributing members of the NC community. Whether we left or stayed, our houses and businesses flooded. The help we are looking for is putting ourselves back together. But that thanks for reading the article about our island–maybe someday you can come and visit it yourself!!

    • Most of those aren’t native Barb, but transplants. I’m a Republican and a native. You obviously don’t know crap about our history. STFU. Stay wherever you are from as you obviously do not represent the people of the Outer Banks!!

    • YOU Barb are exactly what is wrong with our country today. Screaming,youre not going to take my hard earned money! Pathetic

    • You are an idiot. I don’t live there but have spent every summer for the last 35 years there renting the same home every year. I was there when Dorian was approaching and we had to leave after 3 days of what was to be a 14 day trip. The Bankers are hardy and loyal. The islands are paradise. Even if they had evacuated what would purpose they do pick up their homes, belongs, and tied them to their cars? You are a fool and heartless. I will pray you never experience any disaster like those people have. But in the mean time if you don’t have a clue about the area and the subject then just don’t say anything. You obviously don’t give a d*mn about the subject.

  3. What has Cooper done for the natives of Hyde or Dare counties? They have been pushing the native population off the barrier islands in favor of tourism and the rich northerners for the last 40 yrs. Just another example of greed. Don’t blame Trump when Democrats haven’t done anything to help!!

  4. FEMA is the reason Hail and Wind have been pulled from homeowners insurance. And yet, with 10% increases in Wind and Hail every year, they still don’t respond to what coastal folks are now paying for in time of need! INSURANCE companies rule every aspect of our lives! Heath, home, car etc. They are the one industry that has never lost! Wish POTUS would regulate them! But the Democrats ate too busy trying to destroy our country!

  5. It doesn’t matter if people evacuated or not,homes and businesses were destroyed,and FEMA could care less. Ocracoke would have been better off,unfortunately,if they had been a third world country,our government would be falling all over themselves to get them aid;so sad when we do whatever is necessary for a foreign country,but turn a blind eye to those suffering from a natural disaster in this country.

    • You are so right. We give everything to every country that screams for help but we don’t help our own people. I was taught Charity starts at home, but the truth of it is helping these people would not be charity it would be the right thing to do for humanity here on our own soil.

  6. This is bull, these people lost everything and they get no help what so ever? I want to know who to write to in order to voice my feelings on this. It’s like they are punishing them for living on the islands. I guarantee you the people that made this decision did not even go to the islands to see the destruction and loss. Someone tell me who I write to about this please.

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