One Month Out: Getting Tornado Cleanup Help

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A month after the EF3 tornado touched down in Raleigh, the city is still cleaning up.

FEMA, Baptist Men, SBA Loans, debris removal and permit waivers are just a few of the disaster recovery resources available to tornado survivors.

Learning what you are eligible for, where to apply and when can get confusing, so Raleigh Public Record created this guide for Raleigh and Wake County residents.


Wake County has been declared a disaster area, which means FEMA has been activated to offer disaster response assistance to county and city dwellers alike. Residents can get direct financial assistance to repair damage not covered by insurance or other programs.

FEMA services are available online, via telephone (1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or by visiting a disaster recovery center in person. The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is June 20. 2011.

Citizenship status can affect FEMA eligibility. U.S. Citizens, Non-Citizen Nationals and Qualified Aliens meet eligibility, but undocumented immigrants may only be eligible for “short-term, non-cash, emergency aid.”

If you have insurance, call the agent first. FEMA will not pay for damages covered by your personal or business insurance. However, once you know what your insurance covers (or does not) FEMA can make money available “to homeowners to repair damage from the disaster to their primary residence that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to make the damaged home safe, sanitary, and functional.”

FEMA also provides other services, but only after other resources (e.g. insurance, Small Business Administration disaster loans) have been tapped. Eligible claimants can receive assistance for medical, dental, funeral, clothing, fuel, cleanup items, moving and damaged vehicles.

Regardless, be sure to apply with FEMA before the June 20 deadline. According to Julia Jarema, spokesperson for the state’s office of emergency management, “Many people are self-disqualifying themselves, but they should go ahead and register.”



Got Debris?

If you live in Raleigh, the city has created an FAQ document with answers about leafy debris pickup, construction waste disposal sites and needed structural repairs before power hook-ups can begin.

The city FAQ says they will make three passes to clear the debris, but some hard-hit areas have already had as many as four to five passes, according to City of Raleigh Street Superintendent Christopher McGee. McGee advises those in outlying areas to only contact the city if debris has been piled by the road, but has not been picked up after two weeks. Also, if the debris measures less than a pick-up load, residents are asked to cut and bundle the debris for regular trash-day pickup.

Pickup schedules are not on a set schedule and, at present, there’s no deadline for the service, but various city staff indicate they hope to conclude the program by the end of May.

Raleigh residents, business owners and contractors that want to haul their own vegetative debris can take it to Yard Waste Recycling Center at 900 New Hope Road and do not have to pay a fee. As with debris pickup, there’s no deadline for when fees will be reinstated, but Fred Battle, Solid Waste Services Director, said fees would be waived for at least two to three more weeks.

When you drop off your load, be prepared to provide your name, addresses, the location where the debris came from and your license tag number. The city needs the data to get reimbursed by FEMA. The center is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Monday, May 16.

Raleigh residents living along state-maintained roads in Raleigh (New Bern Avenue, Edenton Street, Raleigh Boulevard, Skycrest Drive and Saunders Street) will have their debris hauled by the Department of Transportation. These residents are asked to separate leafy waste from construction debris (e.g. painted boards, structural waste) and place the separate piles along the roadway, but not in it. Residents are also asked not to block any storm drains to avoid potential flooding.

If you need help clearing your property, Raleigh is working with the North Carolina Baptist Men to assist homeowners with debris removal and repairs. To request assistance, call 919.834.7911, register online or go to Carolina Pines Baptist Church, 2655 S. Saunders St. in Raleigh, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday or from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

If you live outside the city and own a business, you will need to hire a private contractor to haul away your debris. Regular tipping fees will apply.

If you live in an unincorporated area of Wake County, DOT will handle debris from state roads and the FEMA-paid contractor hired by the county will pick up construction and demolition debris and leafy debris on private roads where needed for public safety purposes, but this service does not extend to gated communities.  Just like Raleigh residents living on state roads, the county asks that the debris be divided into leafy and construction piles place out of travel lanes without blocking storm drains.

County residents who want to haul their your own debris to any of the county’s 11 convenience centers will find the regular fees have been waived, but commercial, business and municipal debris will not be accepted. Just like Raleigh, the facility is collecting names, addresses, debris locations and license numbers for the FEMA report required for reimbursement.

Need to Rebuild?

If you live in the county, but are not located in a corporate limit, city or planning jurisdiction, you can get a permit to repair and rebuild without paying a fee. Permits and inspections are required for building, plumbing, heating/cooling, electrical materials and equipment or appliances. If you live in Raleigh, permit fees are being charged as usual.

Lost Your Job or Business to the Tornado?

You may qualify for Disaster Unemployment assistance through the state’s Employment Security Commission. If you are eligible, contact them at 1-866-795-8877.

Even if your business did not suffer physical damage, but lost business because of road closures or other tornado-related impacts, you can register through FEMA with the U.S. Small Business Administration program for a low-cost loan to cover your losses.

Want to Volunteer?

Wake County is encouraging those who want to contribute funds to work through the Red Cross. If your faith-based organization wants to get involved, they need to register with the County so their efforts can be coordinated with other volunteer groups.

Volunteers willing to clear storm debris in Raleigh are being asked to register with the city. If you want to learn how to respond to future disasters, Raleigh has a list of organizations that offer training.

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