Help on the way: Obama declares Hurricane Matthew damage a ‘major disaster’ in Virginia is your source for free local news and information in Virginia Beach

Officials are urging residents to take simple precautions to avoid bogus charities, contractors or other scammers in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. (Photo courtesy City of Virginia Beach Twitter)
President Obama announced Wednesday that federal assistance is on the way for Virginia residents affected by Hurricane Matthew. (Photo courtesy City of Virginia Beach Twitter)

With Hurricane Matthew nearly a month behind them, many Virginia Beach and Norfolk residents are trying to piece their lives back together.

And on Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced that federal help is on the way.

Obama declared that a “major disaster” exists in Virginia due to damages left in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which struck the state on Oct. 8.

The declaration will allow qualified Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Newport News residents to get financial help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as early as Nov. 3.

Obama’s declaration comes nearly two weeks after Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe sent the president a letter requesting FEMA assistance for Virginia.

More than a dozen Virginia Beach and Norfolk homes were wrecked by the storm. Another 138 homes were severely damaged, and 1,254 properties suffered minor damages or were affected, McAuliffe’s Oct. 21 letter states.

Only eight percent of Virginia Beach residents had flood insurance at the time of the storm, and on Oct. 25, City Manager Dave Hansen estimated the total price tag for city cleanup to be as high as $51.8 million.

Qualified Virginians can begin applying for FEMA assistance as early as 7 a.m. on Thursday by visiting or by phone at 800-621-3362.

Assistance could include temporary housing and home repair grants, low-cost loans and funding for hazard mitigation measures, according to a White House news release.

“This assistance is critically important to the hundreds of Virginia Beach families and businesses working to put their lives back together in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew,” Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms wrote in a press release.

A local disaster recovery center will also be established in upcoming days where residents can apply for FEMA assistance in person and get answers to questions.

Mayfield can be reached by phone at 352-431-9612.