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Assisting Survivors Can Mean Many Forms of Assistance

(Editor's note: the 800 number was changed to reflect the correct number 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-621-3362)

In response to Hurricane Sandy, the President has approved major disaster declarations in several states throughout the mid-Atlantic, making federal aid available to supplement state and local recovery efforts.  In some states, such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the President authorized the Individual Assistance program, which can provide funding to help eligible individuals and families in their own personal recovery processes. Disaster survivors in these states and other parts of the region have been through a lot, and we’re working hard to ensure that everyone who is eligible for federal assistance gets the help they need.

If you’re a survivor in one of the declared counties you should call to apply for federal assistance.  To register for assistance by phone, please call toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA, or 1-800-621-3362.  Disaster applicants who have a hearing or speech disability and use voice relay telecommunications services can also contact FEMA through the main toll-free number at 1-800-621-3362. Disaster applicants with a speech disability or hearing loss but use a TTY device, should instead call 1-800-462-7585 directly. An easy, online registration process also remains available anytime at, or by using your web-enabled mobile device at  You can also visit a disaster recovery center, where you can talk with someone who can help determine the best course of action for recovery and available assistance programs.

Perhaps one of the best things to understand about relief following a disaster is that insurance is often the first and best way of protecting your family and property from disaster. Depending on the coverage limits, disaster survivors may be made far more whole by their insurance policy than they would from supplemental federal disaster assistance.  Eligibility criteria are set by law and are the same for all disasters, no matter where you live. For instance, under federal law we cannot duplicate benefits and your insurance coverage may impact your eligibility for federal assistance.

It is important to note that because several factors are considered when determining eligibility for federal assistance, we encourage all disaster survivors to apply for aid.  Individuals and families in a declared area, whose essential property has been damaged or destroyed and whose losses are not covered by insurance, may be eligible for disaster assistance.  The maximum amount of financial assistance a disaster survivor may receive under the Individual Assistance program is $31,900. 

While federal assistance is an important step in helping people recover from events like this storm, it is not always the best or only alternative. State and local governments have robust capabilities to respond to and recover from events, and the wide and diverse number of nonprofit voluntary agencies provide an extraordinary amount of disaster relief and recovery resources and services to disaster affected communities.  FEMA also works with many other federal and state agencies, such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to assist disaster survivors. We rely on the whole community’s participation, including the help of the public preparing for and insuring against the uncertainty of disaster.

Last Updated: 
11/08/2012 - 17:54

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