FEMA Assistance: What you need to know

VIDEO: 20 S.C. counties eligible for some type of FEMA assistance

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Twenty counties in South Carolina are eligible for some form of FEMA aid.

However, it's causing some confusion about who is able to get help after suffering damage from Hurricane Matthew.

One year after the historic flood, South Carolina is once again seeking assistance from the federal government.

"If you live in any of the counties that have been affected, or have the declaration, then we ask you call the 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) to register," said William Lindsey, with FEMA.

People are also able to register online at DisasterAssistance.gov, and/or through the FEMA mobile app.

While a recent map shows 20 counties eligible for help from FEMA, each county has some different requirements of who can register.

Sixteen counties, shaded in pink, are eligible for individual and public assistance. Those counties include Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton, Darlington, Dorchester, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Jasper, Lee, Marion, Sumter, and Williamsburg.

Individual refers to homeowners, renters, business owner and property owners.

Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for rent, home repairs to primary residences, uninsured and under-insured personal property losses, and medical, dental, childcare and funeral expense caused by the disaster.

"Public assistance is for the infrastructure," Lindsey said. "For the restructuring of roads, bridges, public parks, libraries. electrical situations and water treatment facilities. Anything on the public side."

Orangeburg County residents are only eligible for individual assistance, according to the map.

Berkeley, Charleston and Horry Counties are only eligible for public assistance at this time, despite some confusion, based on the President's declaration last week:

"The President's action makes federal funding available to state and eligible tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Marion, and Williamsburg counties."

"It starts locally and ends locally," Lindsey said. "[It goes] from the emergency management standpoint, then to the state emergency management office. If they see that their county is overwhelmed, then they make that petition for assistance."

Lindsey added those homeowners, renters, and business owners not eligible right now should contact their insurance companies and then the emergency management divisions within the counties.

"I get a lot of calls that this county hasn't been declared as of yet," he said. "We're still working on that. We're still working with our state and local partners to make sure that everyone is given the opportunity to let us know what their needs are."

Berkeley County Emergency Management Division: (843) 719-4800

Charleston County Emergency Management Division: (843) 746-3900

FEMA representatives are also urging you to be aware of fraud during this recovery time.

"Anyone who comes on your property you have a right to know who they are," Lindsey said. "You can check their identification, even if they are wearing a FEMA logo. Ask for their name and phone number. You have to be vigilant."

Lindsey added you should never give a contractor a full payment for damage repair on the first meeting. That could also be a warning sign of fraud.

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