Deadline for program that helps homeowners with Florence-related repairs extended

Deadline extended for STEP program

SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - The deadline for residents in the Cape Fear Region who are eligible for a special program that provides rapid repairs to homes damaged by Hurricane Florence has been extended to Sunday Feb. 10.

Homeowners will need to complete the forms to participate in North Carolina’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program. It provides temporary, partial repairs at no cost to homeowners so they can get back into their homes while long-term repairs continue.

The program does not return a home to its pre-storm condition, state officials said.

"The STEP program gives families the opportunity to return to their own homes and communities as they put their lives back together after this devastating storm,” said Gov. Cooper. “I’m pleased that FEMA has agreed to our request to extend the deadline so more North Carolinians can benefit from this innovative program, and I urge eligible homeowners to sign and return their forms right away.”

The program is available to all residents in southeastern North Carolina (Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, and Pender) as well as Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Jones, Onslow, and Robeson counties.

To participate in the STEP program, eligible homeowners must now sign a Right of Entry (ROE) form by February 10, 2019.

Once a homeowner completes the Right of Entry form, an inspector will visit the home to assess the damage. For homes confirmed eligible for STEP, the inspector will develop a repair plan. Depending on the level of damage, the repairs will be made by either a volunteer disaster relief group (NC Baptists on Mission or United Methodist Committee on Relief) or a professional contractor managed by the state.

So far, approximately 50 homes have been repaired or are under repair through the STEP program. Work is set to begin soon on hundreds more homes whose owners have already signed up for the program.

Among the kinds of repairs made through the STEP program:

  • Exterior repairs include secure and watertight doors, windows and roof, and safe entrances. 
  • The home’s electrical and plumbing systems will be made safe and operational. 
  • Interior repairs include a functional kitchen – including a base cabinet under the sink, a surface to prepare food, basic refrigeration and cooking surfaces, a working sink – and a functional, private bathroom. 

“Hurricane Florence swamped homes, businesses, schools, farms and entire communities, and North Carolina is working hard to recover,” Gov. Cooper said. “Getting people back in safe, livable homes is key and the STEP program can help families do that. "If you've been notified that the STEP program may be a good fit for your family, don’t wait-- apply now."

The cost of the STEP program is being shared by the State of North Carolina and FEMA. There is no cost to homeowners to participate in the voluntary STEP program.

For survivors who choose to participate in the STEP program, completion of STEP repairs will end their eligibility for a FEMA travel trailer or mobile home and for Transitional Sheltering Assistance to stay in a hotel.

STEP program representatives will be available Monday through Friday this week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in four state disaster recovery centers to assist potential participants with questions, verify eligibility and assist in filling out forms. Those locations are:

  • Brunswick County – Emergency Operations Center, Old Ocean Highway, Building C, Bolivia
  • Craven County – 2825 Neuse Blvd., New Bern
  • New Hanover County – Old Independence Mall, 3500 Oleander Dr., Wilmington
  • Robeson County – Department of Social Services, 120 Glen Cowan Rd., Lumberton

Additional information about the STEP program is available online at www.ncdps.gov/florencestep. Eligible homeowners may also visit the application portal at www.ncstepflorence.com or call (833) 257-1100 Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.

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