Onslow County residents whose homes were damaged during Hurricane Matthew can now apply for federal disaster assistance to help repair or rebuild.

State and federal officials announced this week that Onslow County is one of 28 North Carolina counties now approved for federal funding to help individuals recover from the storm.

“This announcement marks another step forward in providing assistance to hardworking families and businesses in Onslow County,” Gov. Pat McCrory said via an announcement about the approval. “While it will likely take months to fully recover, these funds will help those who are suffering to begin to rebuild their lives.”

The counties now eligible to apply for assistance under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual and Household programs are: Beaufort, Bertie, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Onslow, Pender, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.

According to a FEMA news release on the disaster assistance declaration, storm damage and losses from the hurricane and flooding must have occurred as a result of Hurricane Matthew beginning on Oct. 4.

Homeowners and renters may apply for assistance to repair or rebuild their homes. Business owners who sustained damage may also be eligible for assistance.

The first step is for those who sustained damage is to register with FEMA for assistance.

Teams of state and FEMA disaster assistance specialists will soon be moving into affected communities and Disaster Recovery Centers have opened in some locations.

While a recovery center has not opened in Onslow County, residents seeking assistance can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362(FEMA) toll free. Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use TTY should call 800-462-7585.

The toll-free phone numbers are open daily from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.

According to the FEMA news release, assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs and for serious disaster-related needs such as medical and dental expenses. Long-term, low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may also be available to cover losses not fully compensated by insurance.

Disaster assistance does not duplicate benefits provided by insurance or other agencies or organizations.

Those will insurance should file a claim with their insurance company. Those without insurance or underinsured may still receive assistance after their insurance claim has been settled.

According to information from the state, the 28 counties are also eligible for funds to help cover the costs of responding to the storm or removing storm debris. An additional nine counties are eligible only for assistance for storm response and debris removal.

All 100 North Carolina counties will be eligible for funding to help mitigate future storm damage.