City working on FEMA appeal

Published 10:35 pm Friday, November 4, 2016

The Federal Emergency Management Administration announced this week residents of four Virginia localities are eligible to receive federal aid in recovering from Hurricane Matthew.

Suffolk, however, was not on the list.

Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach were named eligible for residents to receive assistance such as grants and loans to cover expenses resulting from the hurricane.

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But the Virginia Department of Emergency Management is still pushing for help for Suffolk and other localities.

Dr. Jeff Stern, Virginia Department of Emergency Management state coordinator, wrote a letter Friday requesting aid through FEMA’s Public Assistance program for Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight and Southampton counties. Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach also were included in the request.

The public assistance aid reimburses government for damages to its infrastructure, in contrast to the individual assistance approved for Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

A chart provided with Stern’s letter lists damages in Suffolk of nearly $1.2 million, with the bulk of that being $912,000 in damages to city roads and bridges.

“The commonwealth is still actively recovering from significant damage to our communities and our infrastructure, which is affecting our way of life,” Stern wrote. “Hurricane Matthew was a unique event that caused damage beyond the capabilities of our state and local governments and clearly merits and requires Public Assistance disaster aid.”

Meanwhile, Suffolk is working through the appeals process for the individual assistance declaration, according to a city press release.

To help that process, residents and business owners who suffered damage from Hurricane Matthew are urged to contact Planning and Community Development at 514-4150.

“If we are not made aware of these damages, our submission figures aren’t complete and may have a bearing on future determinations,” Deputy Fire Chief Brian Spicer, emergency management coordinator for the city, wrote in a press release.

The city assessor’s office also has announced that property owners may be eligible for a reduction in taxes if buildings were razed, destroyed or damaged as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

The destruction or damage must equal or exceed $500 in the value of the building and render the building unfit for use or occupancy for at least 30 days.

Property owners can call the assessor’s office at 514-7475 during regular business hours for information.

Furthermore, small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Suffolk are eligible to apply for U.S. Small Business Administration economic injury disaster loans. Applications are available at