Dorchester Co. man loses home to storm damage, cannot qualify for federal assistance

Jeffrey Mikell, a homeowner in the Stratton Capers neighborhood, was told he didn’t qualify for federal assistance, even after his home was destroyed.
Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 5:18 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2022 at 9:19 PM EST
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The clean-up continues after Hurricane Ian hit the Lowcountry as a Category 1 storm in late September. But some who have suffered damage to their homes, have fallen through the cracks.

Jeffrey Mikell, a homeowner in the Stratton Capers neighborhood, was told he didn’t qualify for federal assistance, even after his home was destroyed in the storm. However, he wasn’t the only one who didn’t qualify, all of Dorchester County didn’t meet the requirements for federal assistance.

“I spent my whole retirement money and bought my house. My dream, to retire and be comfortable, gone in an instant,” Mikell said.

Mikell has lost nearly everything after Hurricane Ian after a tree fell onto his home during the storm, collapsing the roof.

“Everything came down on top of me. I was trapped in the house for about 15 minutes,” Mikell explained.

A tree hit his neighbor as well.

“It literally like a knife cut the side of his house off,” he said.

The difference is, Mikell’s home was not covered by insurance. He said he couldn’t afford the repairs to qualify for coverage when he bought the house in 1999.

Hopeful for government assistance to help him out, he was disappointed to learn only Charleston, Berkely, Georgetown and Horry counties qualified.

“Dorchester County was nowhere listed and all that and I was like, we were hit also, I mean I lost a whole house. How can I not qualify?” he said.

Mikell estimates a full repair of the damages would cost upwards of $160,000.

A spokesperson for FEMA reports that Dorchester County “was not included in the request for assistance so there are no FEMA disaster relief programs that would apply.”

To qualify, it begins with an emergency declaration from local officials and the governor.

Mikell says, Dorchester County officials informed him the county did not meet the financial threshold to qualify.

“They told me that they pretty much said that we were out of luck,” Mikell said.

The county has also determined that the structure was unsafe, and Mikell hasn’t been able to go inside. Ideally, he would like to stay in the neighborhood.

Mikell serves as a community crime watch member in the Stratton Capers neighborhood, just a few minutes from the border with Charleston County.

But he will most likely sell the property “as is.”

At the very least, he would like to salvage what he can, including the antique china cabinet gifted to him by his mother and for others to not fall through the cracks, like he did.

“Mine is done deal. There’s nothing we can do about that. But how about we prevent this from happening to anybody else in the near future?” Mikell said.

Live 5 News has reached out to Dorchester County, but its offices were closed for the holiday.