Health and Human Services Secretary talks food assistance

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mandy Cohen, came to New Hanover county today to visit a local shelter and meet with county officials.

Cohen says the primary reason for her visit was to say thank you to those who have helped with hurricane response so far, and hear concerns about recovery efforts going forward.

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Cohen had two important messages for people affected by Hurricane Florence. The first: Apply for one-time food assistance.

“We want to make sure folks know that they can get food assistance starting on Friday, for eight days, and they can get a special debit card to help replace some food that may have been lost,” said Cohen. “If you’re an individual, that’s about $192, if you’re a family of four, that’s $640.”

Cohen says this is meant to cover about a month’s worth of food, replacing anything lost in the storm.



“It doesn’t take away all the damage done by the storm, but hopefully make life just a little easier for folks,” said Cohen.

Her other big message was to go ahead and apply for FEMA assistance, even if damage to your home seems minor.

“Err on the side of registering with FEMA. And if there’s nothing that they can offer in terms of assistance, I think it’s better to go through the process, and again, better to do it now than notice something down the line,” she said.

Cohen also says the DHHS is monitoring drinking water to ensure it’s safe to drink.

“Water quality has been a big issue here well before the hurricane, so we know that it’s very important. We have a lot of folks who are here on the ground now testing a lot of the water, so I would say stay tuned while we get those results back,” she said.

Cohen says if you have well water, you can pick up a testing kit at your local health department to make sure your water is safe to drink.

If you need disaster related food assistance, there are several places to apply.

  • In Pender County, go to the Agricultural building in Burgaw.
  • In New Hanover County, go to the former Sears store at Independence Mall in Wilmington.
  • In Onslow County, go to the Consolidated Human Services building.
  • In Brunswick County, go to the Odell Williamson auditorium at Brunswick Community College.
  • Bladen County still TBD.

This is happening Friday, Sept. 28, through Saturday, Sept. 29, and Monday, Oct. 1, through Saturday, Oct. 6. Hours will be from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturdays. No applications will be taken on Sunday.