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Camden Military Academy, others help with relief efforts in the Midlands
KCSO Donation Drive
Kershaw County Sheriffs Office (KCSO) deputies stack cases of water on to a pile of hundreds of items donated during a special flood relief drive at KCSO headquarters Saturday. Like the CMA effort, the KCSOs drive was to benefit Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia. - photo by KCSO Facebook page

What to expect after registering with FEMA

Registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the first step to getting federal disaster assistance.

After you apply, FEMA will send you a copy of your application and a copy of “Help After a Disaster: Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals and Households Program,” which will answer many of your questions.

This publication explains how FEMA’s disaster assistance program works; describes additional kinds of help you may qualify for from other federal, state and voluntary agencies; and gives you many important tips on how best to make all these programs work for you.

After You Register

If your home or its contents are damaged and you are uninsured or underinsured, verifying disaster damage is part of the process to establish the amount and type of damage you suffered.

You will get a call from an inspector who has construction background and is fully qualified to do the job. Inspectors are private contractors who wear official FEMA ID badges. If you have concerns with the legitimacy of a FEMA housing inspector, you should contact your local law enforcement as they will be able to validate their identification.

Authorized inspectors will only confirm personal detailed information you previously provided during the registration process, such as your registration number. They never charge for an inspection.

The U.S. Small Business Administration and various insurance companies also have inspectors in the field. You may also see preliminary damage assessment teams in your area.

Inspector’s Call

After you register -- either online at, by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) or visiting a disaster recovery center -- a nine-digit application number is assigned. An inspector will then call to schedule an appointment to visit your damaged property -- generally no longer than 10 days after registration.

Inspector’s Visit

Keep the scheduled appointment to make sure the assistance process moves quickly. The inspection should take typically 10 to 20 minutes. You -- or someone who is 18 or older and lived in the household prior to the disaster -- must be present for the scheduled appointment. Inspectors will review both structural and personal property damage and file a report, but they do not determine eligibility or determine the value of damage or losses.

A FEMA inspection is not an insurance inspection. If you are covered by insurance, you should contact your insurance company immediately as FEMA cannot duplicate payments.

Proof of Ownership

The inspector will ask for identification and proof of ownership and occupancy (for homeowners) and occupancy only (for renters). You can speed up the process by having the appropriate documents on hand:

• A photo ID to prove identity, such as driver’s license or passport.

• Proof of occupancy, such as a lease, rent payment receipt or utility bill.

• Proof of ownership, such as a deed, title, mortgage payment book, property insurance policy or tax receipts. 

After the Inspector’s Visit

You will receive a letter from FEMA containing a decision within 10 days of the inspector’s visit. If you are eligible for assistance, the letter will be followed by a check or an electronic funds transfer. The letter explains how the money can be used. You may receive a low-interest disaster loan application in the packet from the SBA. You do not have to accept a loan. However, you must complete the application and return it to SBA to remain eligible for other types of federal assistance, such as FEMA grants.

(This information provided by FEMA through the Kershaw County Government Center.)

Thursday, a pick-up truck towing a trailer followed a tractor trailer as it left Camden Military Academy (CMA) for Columbia, filled with a combined load of 500 cases of water, an additional 20,000 bottles of water and hundreds of jars of peanut butter and jelly.

The small caravan arrived later at Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia where dozens of CMA cadets unloaded the goods and went on to assist individual families in the area.

“The boys at the school raised the money, along with faculty and staff,” Headmaster Col. Eric Boland said. “I called Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews and he said there was no immediate need for these items in the county, but suggested Harvest Hope because it services Kershaw County.”

Boland said CMA board member Art Dumont found out what was happening and decided to pitch in, too.

“He owns Custom Glass in Salisbury, N.C., and put together a tractor trailer filled with the 20,000 bottles of water. He told me to ‘take it where it was needed,’” Boland said.

He said Dumont is planning a second trailer full of supplies, but asked CMA to wait an additional week to determine where it needs to go. Boland said it could come here, to Kershaw County, Columbia again, or even Charleston.

CMA Director of Admissions Casey Robinson said the delivery to Harvest Hope also included toiletries. Afterward, Robinson said cadets assisted families the academy learned about through St. John’s Episcopal Church in Columbia’s Shandon neighborhood.

“The rector there reached out and we answered the call,” Robinson said. “The rector at St. John’s has worked with the academy in the past.”

One home where cadets assisted was in Forest Acres. It was completely flooded and cadets helped remove furniture and salvage valuables. After arriving, they learned one of the people living in the home is a former Camden resident.

“It was purely a coincidence that a family member had previously lived in Camden; the rector did not know that when he called,” Robinson said.

Cadets also went to St. Michaels Episcopal Church in Columbia. Robinson said the chapel was flooded and all the furniture and pews had to be removed. CMA cadets also passed out water to those in need there, and delivered more water to the Benedict College area of Columbia.

“It was pretty cool to see the kids do this,” Boland said. “It was also eye opening. There was a mile-long line of cars trying to get to Harvest Hope.”

The Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) also held a drive for donations to Harvest Hope Food Bank. According to a note on the KCSO’s Facebook page, Matthews’ administrative assistant Sam West Connell was responsible for coming up with the idea. Even young children donated as little as $1 to help out with the cause and brought homemade treats for deputies volunteering for the effort. According to one Facebook entry, employees from Dixon Hughes Goodman -- which included an anonymous Kershaw County native -- in Atlanta showed up with a truck load of donations. Another truck of goods came from Bethune Discount Groceries, owned by the Weaver family.

The KCSO continues to serve as a donation drop-off location today until 6 p.m., accepting canned meat, fruits, vegetables; sports drinks; bottled water; baby formula; baby diapers; and baby wipes.

Another, separate student-based effort came from Camden High School (CHS).

Friday morning, 25 CHS students traveled to rival Lower Richland High School to deliver a large supply of water, detergent cleaning supplies, paper products and clothing.

In addition, the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) -- which returned to a regular schedule today -- is holding a series of blood drives with the American Red Cross to help shore up blood supplies following the heavy rains which caused flooding throughout South Carolina, including the Midlands.

Other local efforts include:

• KershawHealth’s “10,000 Items in 10 Days” campaign -- accepting various items for people in all counties affected by flooding. Collection bins are located in the main hospital’s cafeteria, the welcome center at KershawHealth and Elgin Urgent Care. KershawHealth is also accepting cash or gift cards to Walmart, Home Depot or Lowe’s, through the hospital’s nursing supervisor.

• The Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Center, 607 Broad St., in Camden, is accepting non-clothing donations Monday through Friday. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (803) 432-8452 to learn what they need.

• Elgin Town Hall is also accepting non-clothing donations at 2469 Main St., Elgin, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (803) 438-2362 for more information. Elgin Town Hall also served as a special donation event location from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, accepting clothing, household and personal hygiene items.

• Clothing donations can be dropped off at the Blaney Backyard Grille, 1244 Pine St., Elgin, (803) 438-9971; and Mike Taylor Properties, 2448 Main St., Elgin, (803) 408-0006.

The chamber and town of Elgin are using a S.C. Emergency Management Division list of items to accept donations. Items on the list include:

• Bedding -- blankets, sheets, pillow, pillow sheets, sleeping bags, cots

• Ice -- bagged, bulk, dry

• Medical Supplies -- non-prescription drugs, Band-Aids, tape, ointments, spray

• Children’s Items -- baby diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby food, non-electrical games

• Paper Supplies -- plates, bowls, cups, towels, toilet paper, plastic flatware

• Cleaning Supplies -- disinfectant, bleach, mops, buckets, rubber gloves, plastic gloves, sponges, brooms, plastic trashbags

• Water -- canned, bottled

• Non-Perishable Food: pop-top canned goods, dry cereal, prepackaged snack items, canned meat, peanut butter, 100 percent fruit juice, dry milk, Gatorade.