Jefferson County surveyed today for possible disaster relief

PORT TOWNSEND – A survey of east and west Jefferson County that begins today will determine if homes and businesses are eligible for state and federal assistance in the wake of the Dec. 3 storm.

If the county is found to be eligible for assistance, owners of homes and businesses could be able to apply for low interest loans and recovery costs, and workers could get special consideration for unemployment compensation.

“We do not believe at this point that we have sufficient damage to warrant eligibility for assistance,” Bob Hamlin, director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Department, said Thursday.

“We’re attempting to get that question answered, and that’s the purpose of the visit,” he added.

“The purpose of the survey is to get final figures.”

Both Jefferson and Clallam counties were among the 12 counties designated in December as eligible for assistance to state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations.

But only nine counties – including Clallam but not Jefferson – were designated for individual assistance.

In Clallam County, a disaster recovery center has offered assistance to residents since Dec. 20.

By Thursday, a total of 137 people had sought help at the center at the Forks Community Center.

Today’s survey of Jefferson County will be done by a representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, joined by one person each from the state Emergency Management Office and from the Small Business Administration, along with two workers from the Jefferson County emergency management office.

The visitors expect to complete the survey of both sides of the county that wraps around the Olympic National Park from the Pacific to Hood Canal in one day, Hamlin said.

But Hamlin expects geographic reality to slow the process.

“It probably will expand into a two-day survey,” he said.

“It’s not going to be possible tomorrow,” he said on Thursday.

“You have to leave the county twice to get to Queets.”

He expects to be able to comment on the result of the survey on Saturday or Sunday.

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