Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Truth or Consequences:
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP) provides a means for eligible households to purchase nutritious foods for their family during the aftermath of a disaster.

            The Department of Agriculture Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) approved a request that was made by the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) to issue Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) benefits to households that resided within any of the 24 counties that were affected by Hurricane Joaquin. Joaquin struck South Carolina the first week of October.  Many South Carolina residents suffered disaster- related damages and losses due to the severe storms and flooding that were brought on by Joaquin.  On Oct. 20, 2015, the (FNS) approved the following counties for food assistance for disaster relief, Bamberg, Calhoun, Clarendon, Colleton, Lee, Newberry, Williamsburg, Lexington, Richland, Sumter, Dorchester, Horry, Florence, Berkley, Charleston, Darlington, Georgetown, Greenwood, Kershaw, Orangeburg.  The application period differed by county and has now ended for all counties.

Residents that meet DSNAP income guidelines are eligible to receive benefits if they endured one or more of the following conditions, damage to or destruction of the home, loss or inaccessibility of income including a reduction or termination of income or a significant delay in receiving income due to disaster related problems, disaster-related expenses (home or business repairs, temporary shelter, evacuation, etc.) that are not expected to be reimbursed during the disaster benefit period.

 North Charleston Coliseum – Charleston County residents
 wait to apply for DSNAP benefits
Charleston County’s application period was the week of Nov. 16 – 20 and was held at the North Charleston Coliseum.  As soon as visitors walked in the doors, they were directed to keep moving forward with the line and you were given a number.  The line fed into a huge room with a gray concrete floor and blue metal chairs where applicants waited for their number to be called. In the middle of the room there were several rows of tables set up where local DSS workers sat on one side of the tables, waiting to help the next people in line once their number was called. One worker said in two days they had seen over 5,000 DSNAP applicants that resided in Charleston County.  She said she felt that “it was a very positive thing” to be able to offer the people some kind of relief and support.  The workers simply asked applicants a few questions and then determined if they were eligible and the amount that they were entitled to receive the relief benefits. Applicants that qualified were given a standard EBT card and told that the money would be loaded on the card within a week or so. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA and the State of S.C. have decided to extend the date until Jan. 3, 2016 for which survivors of the October 2015 floods can apply for Disaster Assistance.  The extension applies to S.C. residents who live in the following counties: Bamberg, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dorchester, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Greenville, Greenwood, Horry, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Spartanburg, Sumter, and Williamsburg.

A quote given by FEMA states that $51 million dollars has been given to S.C. to help out with losses. In addition to this, 1,400 houses suffered significant damage of $10,000 or more, and 30,000 houses had damage that was less than $10,000. 

FEMA’s Individuals & Households Assistance Program can potentially help people with rental assistance, temporary housing, emergency home repairs, personal property losses, medical and dental, funeral expenses, and other expenses that are a result of a disaster that insurance does not cover.

To register for this assistance, go online at DisasterAssistance.gov. You may also register by phone 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 toll free from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Survivors who use 711 or Video Relay Service or require accommodations while visiting a disaster recovery center may call 800-621-3362.

By: Lindsey Jenkins

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