Important FEMA Tips Before Applying For Disaster Assistance

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From the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The parts highlighted in yellow are very important for the public to know now rather than later in applying for assistance.

Individuals in either of the designated counties may apply for assistance either by phone toll-free at      800-621-3362 or online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Disaster assistance applicants who use the      TTY system should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; those who use 711 or Video Relay Service, call 1-      800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) daily.

If you registered with some other agency (such as the Red Cross when you went to a shelter), that        did NOT register you  with FEMA.  You’ll  need to register with FEMA directly.

If you have already called or gone online and registered for FEMA assistance for damage caused          by the recent rain, you will NOT need to reapply. You can call the FEMA Helpline and speak with a        representative if you have any questions, or as Disaster Recovery Centers open up, they too will be      able to answer questions.

Disaster survivors must meet the following criteria to be considered for assistance through the                Individuals and Households Program:

  • Disaster losses are in a Presidentially-declared disaster area
  • The damage to the home must have been caused by the declared disaster;
  • The homeowner must provide proof of ownership;
  • Both renters and homeowners may also be eligible for Other Needs Assistance (ONA) through FEMA. ONA helps survivors with uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster. 
  • A member of the household must be a United States citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien;
  • The damaged home is where the applicant lives the majority of the year;
  • The applicant must have maintained flood insurance if assisted by FEMA in a previous disaster; 
  • The damaged home is inaccessible or not livable due to the disaster; and
  • The disaster survivor has necessary expenses or serious needs as a result of the disaster that are not covered by insurance or any other source

FEMA advises people to begin clean up and rebuilding as quickly as possible. While people must have a permit, it isn’t necessary that they wait for a FEMA inspector in order to make their homes livable and secure. However, property owners need to keep receipts for materials purchased, and work completed, in order to substantiate their claim. Photographing storm-related damage is a way to document your damage, but it is not mandatory.

Before beginning any repair work it is important that you check with your local officials to make sure that you have the proper permits.

Before spending any money to repair or rebuild damaged property, state and federal disaster officials stress the importance of consulting community building officials or the planning office for current rules and regulations. Under no circumstances should repairs or rebuilding begin before issuance of an appropriate permit.

U.S. Small Business Administration
Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are available for businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters. Low-interest disaster loans help fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. Economic Injury disaster loans are available to businesses and private nonprofits to assist with working capital needs as a direct result of the disaster. For more information or any questions about SBA disaster programs, businesses and residents should contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955 (Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339), or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster.

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