FEMA assistance starts to end, Florence victims still without homes

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One Florence victim’s home was condemned, but her FEMA assistance is running out. (Photo: Kylie Jones/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s been five and a half months after Hurricane Florence and hundreds in North Carolina are still living in hotels.For some, FEMA assistance is coming to an end.

Barbara St. Charles says her FEMA assistance ends Thursday. She says she has called at least a dozen places, but she says there are not enough rental options to go around, and that her credit score is keeping her from finding a home.

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“You think you’re getting somewhere and it’s like they pull the rug out from under your feet and you start all over again,” St. Charles said.

St.Charles has spent the last five months since Florence living out of the Main Stay Suites, after her rental home was condemned. With three grandchildren to raise, her time there is about to end.

“It’s hard trying to find a place when looking all over for several months, thousands of dollars spent on application fees. You go look at the place, then you come back and they’ll tell you it’s already rented,” she said.

St. Charles is one of 200 households in the region who still needs FEMA assistance. But on Thursday, that help will end for St. Charles.

FEMA spokesperson John Mills says everything is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

“We’ve already been making hundreds of referrals to charitable, non-profit and faith-based organizations to help people make home repairs, find an available rental apartment and find short-term housing while they can determine their next steps,” Mills said.

Mills says all transitional sheltering assistance will come to an end on march 12. He says FEMA has given almost a billion dollars to families, but that does wind down at some point.

Florence victims like St. Charles have been saving that money, but she she does not know where to turn.

“The shelter now is kind of coming to and end and that’s kind of scary because I don’t want to be on the street with three kids,” St. Charles said.

She says the motel told her that it is almost completely full with other Florence victims like her.

Mills encourages victims to get back in touch with FEMA because there are ways to continue getting certain assistance.

To get in touch with the FEMA helpline, call 1-(800)-621-3362.