Polk applying for FEMA assistance for winter storm damage

Published 8:00 am Thursday, December 13, 2018

1,500 residents still without power as of late Tuesday

POLK COUNTY — As 1,500 people were still out of power almost 72 hours after Winter Storm Diego dumped 6 to 18.5 inches of snow and ice on the ground, Polk County is applying for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The county is encouraging residents to survey and take pictures of any damage and send the information to the Polk County Emergency Management Office.

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There were still 10,000 customers out of power in North and South Carolina as of Wednesday, with 3,000 of those being in Polk and Rutherford counties and 1,500 of those in Polk County. Polk County originally had more than 6,000 out of power, with utility companies working day and night to restore service.

Many had power back by Monday evening, with others receiving service by Tuesday evening.

Diego began Saturday evening, with most of the power outages occurring between 2 and 4 a.m. Sunday.

Polk County had two shelters set up at one time, at Polk County High School and at the Saluda Fire Department. Saluda’s shelter closed earlier this week and the shelter at the high school closed Wednesday. At one time, the high school shelter had 45 residents staying.

“We will be closing the shelter today,” said Polk County Emergency Management Director and Fire Marshal Bobby Arledge on Wednesday. “We only have two people left. As soon as we find them somewhere to go, we will close it.”

Arledge also said Duke Energy on told the county it has moved the power restoration time for all county residents back from the original 5 p.m. on Friday to 11 p.m. Thursday. That means that all electricity should be restored to everyone in the county by Thursday evening, if not before.

Polk County officials are encouraging residents to contact them with damages not covered by insurance in order to apply for FEMA funding.

Residents can call 828-894-6342 with their name, address, phone number and a brief explanation of damages, or email damages with any photographs to barledge@polknc.org.

“We would appreciate any pictures you can provide and any estimate for repairs that you have obtained,” Arledge said. “FEMA assistance is determined by the amount of damages in a specific area and is controlled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

Arledge said the county will submit all of the county’s damages to the North Carolina State Emergency Agency as well and will wait for a response on whether either agency will be able to offer assistance.

“It is important that we compile these damages in one place for submission to the state and federal agencies,” Arledge said. “The decision-making process takes many months to complete, so be prepared for an extended wait on the decision from FEMA.”