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Easley, FEMA Officials Remind Citizens Of Storm Relief Deadline

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KINSTON, N.C. — Victims of Hurricane Isabel have less than a month left to file for federal aid. But that aid should be faster coming than in the past.

Gov. Easley, who met Monday with the

Federal Emergency Management Agency

and the National Guard, said the process of getting help is much smoother than it was after Hurricane Floyd four years ago.

"We were better prepared for the hurricane," Easley said. "We were better prepared for the hurricane response, also for the recovery."

FEMA already has doled out $65 million in Isabel's wake to North Carolinians in 46 counties.

Easley reminded residents and business owners in 47 North Carolina counties who sustained damage during Isabel of the approaching deadline to apply for FEMA disaster assistance. He said Nov. 17 is the last day applications will be accepted.

"With the deadline only three weeks away," Easley said, "residents who had uninsured hurricane or storm damage from Isabel should call


quickly and apply for disaster assistance.

"Do not assume that you do not qualify for assistance," Easley said. "By calling this number, a trained specialist can evaluate your situation."

Nov. 17 also is the deadline for submitting loan applications to the

United States Small Business Administration

for disaster-related losses to real and personal property.

According to disaster officials, even people who do not want an SBA loan should complete and return the application if they get one. No one has to accept a loan if it is offered, and if the information shows the applicants are unable to repay an SBA loan, they may be eligible for a grant.

Counties declared eligible for federal and state disaster aid as a result of the hurricane or other storms from Sept. 18-26 are Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Davidson, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.

"We want people to understand that this is merely an application deadline," said Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. "For individuals who have already applied, their cases will continue to be processed. But we will not be accepting any new applications after Nov. 17."

Easley said people can not be reminded enough about the deadline.

"The last thing I want to happen after all this good hard work is for someone to forget to apply for FEMA," Easley said. "It's so critical."

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