A Timeline of FEMA Requests

Sundae Horn

State Senator Bob Steinburg muddies the water with a timeline of events, plus comments.

As we reported earlier, newly-elected Congressman Greg Murphy stated on Saturday that President Trump had signed the request from Governor Roy Cooper to declare NC counties, including Hyde County/Ocracoke, a major disaster area. 

This did not happen. 

Congressman Murphy appears to have been misinformed, and he edited his own Facebook page from Saturday to omit the sentence about President Trump.

He hasn't admitted he was mistaken, and defends himself by placing the blame on Governor Cooper's addendum to the request, which the governor added on Saturday, September 21st.

A Timeline of FEMA Requests

The Ocracoke Current, among others, questioned that assertion.

On Tuesday afternoon, N.C. Senator Bob Steinburg put in his two cents. He posted this message to his personal and political Facebook pages: "Please find a chronology of Hurricane Dorian Declaration by Governor Cooper and requests for Declarations from Governor Cooper to the President. My hope is to clarify the various declarations and what they mean to the communities impacted by Hurricane Dorian. The counties included in the individual assistance declaration request are Dare, Hyde, Carteret, and New Hanover. If you have damage to your private property such as your home and your county is not on the list for the individual assistance declaration, please call my office at 919-715-8293 and speak with Ed Stiles. Thank you." The message was accompanied by jpg versions of a two-page document that was a timeline complete with links that didn't work because they were in a jpg format.

I called Ed Stiles and left a message. I followed up with an email asking for pdf copies of the timeline document so I could post the information on the Current without re-typing it. He replied with a cryptic set of screenshots of Senator Steinburg's two Facebook posts and the one I shared on the Current's Facebook page, with "Hope this helps. Have a nice day."

No, it really doesn't help. It would've taken him less time to email me the file than search for the Current's Facebook page, take screenshots, and email them. I will also add that this is the first time that I have been turned down when I asked a government employee for a pdf of public information.

However, I love my Current readers, so I'm going to retype the whole thing.

But first a caveat: Steinburg posted last week that Hyde County was not doing their share to get the information that FEMA needs. To his credit, he did post a retraction on September 20th that reads: "CORRECTION TO RECENT FEMA POST: Hyde County has completed all information and submitted all required data for FEMA request. Last night I stated they had not. My bad. Sincere apologies." I'm sharing that so we all know that Senator Steinburg can be mistaken.


Senator Steinburg's Timeline (verbatim from jpgs):

"Per the 1988 Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, or simply the Stafford Act, only governors have the authority to request emergency declarations for their state. 

August 30

Governor Cooper declared a state of emergency for North Carolina. The state of emergency declaration was essental to making federal help accessible and allowed state agencies to coordinate evacuations. 

September 2

Governor Cooper submitted a request, to the President, for a federal disaster declaration for the state of North Carolina. 

September 3

The President granted Governor Cooper's September 2 request for a federal disaster declaration for the state of North Carolina. This declaration was needed to speed federal aid to NC to include FEMA personnel and the military. In the request the state had to prove the situation was beyond the capacity of the state and local government(s) to handle and supplemental federal assistance may be necessary. 

September 6

Hurricane Dorian made landfall on the coast bringing wind, rain, and catastrophic flooding to Ocracoke island, in Hyde County, and a portion of the Outer Banks in southern Dare county. 

September 6

Governor Cooper directed state emergency responders to the Outer Banks. Local emergency officials, with the help of the state, also began damage assessments to determine what damage hurricane Dorian left behind. 

September 13

Governor Cooper submitted a request to the president to issue a declaration for public assistance for Brunswick, Catertert, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Hyde, New Hanover, Pamlico, Pender, Sampson, Tyrrell and Washington counties. FEMA's Public Assistance (PA) grant provides grants for debris removal, life-saving protective measures, and restoring publci infrastructure such as roads, and in our case, damage to our ferry systems as well. Please note: Between Septmber 6 and September 13, damages were being assessed, throughout the counties affected by the storm. It is a cumbersome process as monetary/percentage thresholds must be met for the declaration to the approved. FEMA was assisting counties affected, during this time, to ensure their debris removal contracts and other submittals would meet federal guidelines for reimbursement. Please note: This assistance is typically provided on a 75% federal, 25% non-federal cost sharing basis and counties and the state are moving forward with debris removal and repair of roads in anticipation the declaration for public assistance will be approved. 

Due to state and local assessment teams continuing to evaluate private property, in this same request, Governor Cooper reserved the right to submit a request for an Individual Assistance declaration at a later date. 

Governor Cooper's September 13 request can be found here

September 21

It was reported the President had approved Governor Cooper's September 13 request for a public assistance declaration, however, on September 21, Governor Cooper also submitted a supplemental request for an Individual Assistance declaration for Carteret, Dare, Hyde, and New Hanover counties as he had reserved the right to do in his September 13 request. In this same request, he added Jones County to his September 13 request for public assistance declaration. Due to adding Jones County, to his initial September 13 request, the data for the addition of Jones county has to be reviewed before the public assistance request, for the counties in the September 13 request along with the addition of Jones County, can be signed by the President. 

Here is the link to the Governor's September 21 submittal.

If approved, the individual assistance declaration opens up FEMA's individual and Households Program (IHP) and may provide financial assistance and services, to homeowners and renters, for losses caused by hurricane Dorian that are not covered by the homeowners or renters flood and/or insurance policies or other means. Please note: FEMA will not provide monetary help for secondary (vacation) homes. Assistance to individual and households may also include; a crisis counseling program, disaster care management, disaster unemployment assistance, disaster legal services, and disaster supplemental nutrition assistance. 

Again, the individual assistance declaration request, submitted by Governor Cooper, is only for Carteret, Dare, Hyde, and New Hanover counties.

When reviewing a request for individual assistance declaration, FEMA takes into account the concertation [sic] of damage, degree of trauma to the communities, special populations (low-income, elderly, etc.), the capabilities of voluntary agencies to help, how many structures were insured and the severity and number of damaged residences.

While I am aware the process seems to be taking a long time, it was imperative local governments, with help from the state, be as accurate as possible with their damage assessment to ensure they can meet the Public Assistance and Individual Assistance declaration thresholds. They were doing all of this while simultaneously providing and coordination for the immediate needs of their communities as well."


But that's not all!! On his Facebook page, under a comment from Michale Void thanking him for his timeline, Steinburg commented, "There has/is been a lot of confusion and misinformation out there. I’m only trying to clarify. When Governor Cooper added an additional county to his original request, which is his right, he errantly I hope, stopped the progress right in its tracks and thus has again, unwittingly perhaps, delayed the entire process because the new county he added now needs to be vetted. Rep. Murphy was unaware of Governor Coopers change when he made his announcement of approval, as were others in DC."

I'd like to add my own "Please note": Steinburg doesn't say WHO reported that the president had signed the declaration. It was, in fact, Congressman Murphy. They both are trying to lay the blame on Cooper for adding Jones County to his initial request, but, while that may have slowed down the FEMA process, it couldn't have changed a signed document into an unsigned one. The facts are: We have no proof that Trump signed the public assistance declaration, Murphy reported he did, both Steinburg and Murphy are walking back Murphy's announcement without actually admitting his mistake, and both are blaming it on Cooper.

A Timeline of FEMA Requests
A Timeline of FEMA Requests






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