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Appealing a FEMA Assistance Denial Decision

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When you are faced with devastating losses we know that asking for assistance is never an easy thing to do, and we try our very best to make the process as easy as possible.  And from time-to-time through this process, we get questions about what your options might be if you receive a letter from FEMA denying your request for disaster assistance. So we want to make sure that you have the best information to help you receive the assistance you need.

If you receive a letter from FEMA stating you are not eligible for assistance, it does not necessarily mean your case is closed. Your letter tells you how to appeal the decision and what additional information you need to provide to FEMA, in order for your case to be reviewed again. It is important to note that survivors must submit an appeal within 60 days of the date on the determination letter they received.

When survivors apply for individual disaster assistance through FEMA, their needs are assessed based on a number of factors, including eligibility requirements laid out under federal law.  Sometimes people do not qualify for financial help right away. Some of the reasons for an initial turn down can be:

  • You might not have gotten your insurance settlement;
  • You may not have given FEMA all the information we need;
  • You haven’t given us proof of ownership or residence;
  • You may not have returned the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan application;
  • You may not have provided records that showed the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster;
  • You may not have signed essential documents.

Bottom line – these letters are the start of a conversation between you and FEMA, not the end.

Read your letter carefully. FEMA may only need you to provide additional information. Your appeal should include new or missing information, documents and damage repair estimates that support the appeal request.

It is important to date the appeal letter and mail it to the following address:

FEMA - Appeals Officer
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

Appeals may also be faxed to: 1-800-827-8112.

You can also call the helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 or visit a Disaster Recovery Center, where you can talk with someone about your particular situation. Either way, you can get more information about what to do next and give us information that might change our determination about your status.

So again, everyone should read their letters carefully, ask questions, ask for help, and tell us if you think we got it wrong. We are here to serve you – the disaster survivor – and it is your right to ask us to reconsider our decision.

Assisting Survivors Can Mean Many Forms of Assistance

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(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 www.disasterassistance.gov, or by using your web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov.  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.

New York Stories in the Wake of Sandy

Editor's note: This was originally posted on the U.S. Dept. of Labor Blog.

No television image or news report can prepare you for this.

Families without power—unable to shower or wash their clothes for days—huddled together in churches serving as “warming centers” to provide refuge from the stinging cold outside…

Secretary Solis toured a hard hit area of Queens where flood waters and sand took their toll on the neighborhood.

Secretary Solis toured a hard hit area of Queens where flood waters and sand took their toll on the neighborhood.

Mounds of displaced sand plowed two stories high in residential neighborhoods, so homeowners could finally get through their front door to survey the damage inside…

Mothers with shopping baskets, and dads holding plastic bags, sifting through donation boxes at makeshift relief centers to find food and clothing to keep their children nourished and warm….

Wine sellers, florists, glass etchers, caterers, printers and other merchants surveying the wreckage of their small businesses, navigating knee-high dirty water to strip off drywall before dangerous mold forms, spreads and creates a health risk….

I spent yesterday in Brooklyn and Queens because the federal government has a responsibility here. It’s not enough to just send our thoughts and prayers.

Secretary Solis chats with a small child while his family collects needed food and clothing supplies.

Secretary Solis chats with a small child while his family collects needed food and clothing supplies.

President Obama told every member of his cabinet to work quickly to deliver critical aid wherever it’s needed. That’s why I exercised my discretion and approved $27.8 million under our National Emergency Grant program to fund 1,400 temporary jobs for New Yorkers to assist with clean-up efforts in the five boroughs. We cut the red tape and approved the funding less than 24 hours after it was requested.

I also approved $15.6 million for cleanup crews in New Jersey and $1.5 million for Rhode Island. As additional requests for assistance come in to the Department of Labor, they will be handled immediately. We also are providing emergency disaster unemployment insurance to affected workers who may not normally qualify, such as part-time and new workers.

During a visit at the Queens Workforce 1 Career Center (One Stop), Secretary Solis met with community leaders and Congressman Gregory W. Meeks to discuss grants to hire workers for clean up efforts.

During a visit at the Queens Workforce 1 Career Center (One Stop), Secretary Solis met with community leaders and Congressman Gregory W. Meeks to discuss grants to hire workers for clean up efforts.

There has been enough suffering, so we’re communicating the safety precautions for clean-up workers to take as they rebuild. They should assume all power lines are live, and act with appropriate caution. And they should wear hard hats, shoes and reflective vests, and follow proper safety procedures when using ladders, cutting down trees and working near other hazards. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are on the ground in all of the affected areas, providing training and educational materials so crews stay safe as they restore electricity, demolish structures, clear debris and repair infrastructure.

Even in the face of so much adversity, I also saw many scenes yesterday that left me inspired. I saw that rough-and-tumble New Yorker stereotype give way to countless demonstrations of kindness and sacrifice. I saw people more concerned about their neighbors than themselves.  They were standing elbow to elbow in food lines. They knew there was a finite amount of food, but they waited patiently. No one pushed or jostled. In fact, I saw people at the front of the line passing sandwiches back to the people behind them.

Make the Road New York, one of the groups visited by Secretary Solis has been collecting and distributing donations.

Make the Road New York, one of the groups visited by Secretary Solis has been collecting and distributing donations.

As always, the faith community sprang into action: At Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Brooklyn, a priest who looked like he hadn’t slept in days delivered comfort to people of every race, religion and background. “I’m going to pray for your strength,” I heard him say. St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Queens welcomed Jewish congregants so they could hold Sabbath services Friday night after their temple had been damaged in the storm.

I saw FEMA crews working side by side with state and local officials. Instead of turf wars or acrimony, there was a clear sense of shared purpose. I saw businesses like Lowe’s on sight with hundreds of buckets to help with debris removal. Relief workers brought canned goods. Local grocers supplied fresh fruit and sandwiches. As I was leaving, I saw the Army Corps of Engineers bringing in generators to provide power and warmth.

I will never forget the people I met or the unlikely scenes of hope that transpired in the midst of so much hardship and loss.  Long after the camera crews are gone, the rebuilding will continue. This government—and this department—will be there until the work is complete. In times like this, we are one.

Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts

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One week ago today, millions of Americans from North Carolina to Maine braced for Hurricane Sandy.  That evening for over 12 hours, hurricane and tropical storm force winds, storm surge, and flooding impacted 12 states, with over eight million people losing power. Transportation systems in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, DC came to a halt, and more than 12,000 commercial flights were grounded.  And for the first time since 1888, the New York Stock Exchange was closed for two consecutive days because of a natural disaster.

Days before the storm stuck, at the direction of President Obama, the entire federal government was mobilizing to support the anticipated state and local response to the storm.  The President declared an emergency in over a dozen states, and resources and commodities like food, water and blankets were pre-positioned.  FEMA staff was deployed to work side-by-side with their state and local counterparts to ensure coordination in response to the impacts of the storm, and urban search and rescue teams were deployed to prepare to support state and local efforts.  First responders up and down the east coast knocked on doors to urge those in danger to get out of harm’s way. 

Before the tropical storm force winds stopped blowing on Tuesday, President Obama had declared a major disaster declaration for the states of New York and New Jersey, immediately making federal financial assistance available to individuals in the impacted regions.  As of this afternoon, over 230,000 individuals in the impacted areas have registered for financial assistance, and over $210 million has been provided to survivors.

We know that the human and economic toll of Hurricane Sandy will be severe and long-lasting.  More than 100 people lost their lives and were victims of this storm - they will not be forgotten.  In addition, there were billions in losses to small businesses and personal property.  But out of this tragedy, there are stories of survivors pulling together, neighbors helping neighbors, and communities beginning to rebuild.

We know that there are many challenges ahead and that recovery will not happen overnight.  Many survivors remain without power, and many are finding themselves without shelter.  FEMA will remain in support of our state, tribal and local partners, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Even as television cameras turn to other stories, we will be on the ground to support the survivors.

If you are a survivor, it’s important to take that the first step is to register with FEMA, by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or going online to www.disasterassistance.gov on your computer or mobile device. 

As we have seen in the past few days, a disaster can happen to any of us, but by working together as one team, we can recover and we can rebuild. 

Housing and Sheltering Needs of Hurricane Sandy

As FEMA and our federal partners continue to work with states to recover from Hurricane Sandy, an increasing number of residents whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by the storm have been displaced from their homes and are seeking sheltering alternatives. FEMA is working directly with states, which lead housing efforts, to identify solutions to meet the needs of survivors.

States and non-governmental organizations like the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, including The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and Southern Baptist Convention, are working to ensure displaced disaster survivors are provided shelter, food and water. As we reach the one week mark since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, we understand that many residents may be asking themselves what their options are as they confront the challenge of finding short-term accommodations and the possibility of needing long-term housing.

In response to those needs, and at the request of New York and New Jersey, FEMA has activated its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program, which allows eligible survivors who are in shelters and cannot return to their homes due to storm-related damages to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing accommodations are available. FEMA’s contracted vendor, Corporate Lodging Consultants, is maintaining a list of participating hotels and motels, and working to bring on more hotels to ensure that the needs of all survivors are being met. Hotel and motel owners who wish to become a participating hotel can sign up at https://ela.corplodging.com/

FEMA is actively processing registrations for disaster assistance through our call centers. We have inspectors on the ground assessing disaster damages and FEMA is approving financial assistance for housing (such as rental and home repair assistance) and financial assistance for other essential needs (such as disaster-related medical needs, replacement of lost clothing, furniture, and other necessary items).  As of 3pm, more than 230,000 individuals have registered for assistance, and more $203 million has been approved.

More than 1200 FEMA Community Relations (CR) specialists are on the ground meeting with residents in New York and New Jersey to explain the types of assistance that are available through the federal government and to help residents register.  

Even while we are focused on the immediate housing needs of survivors, in support of the State, the Federal Family is also beginning to look at the long-term recovery needs of survivors and their local communities.  FEMA has appointed Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators in New York and New Jersey who are assessing the unique recovery challenges that lay ahead.  One such example is the long-term housing needs of those displaced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support the State in meeting the housing needs of disaster survivors. This joint effort is comprised of housing and technical experts from the State, Housing & Urban Development (HUD), FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Small Business Administration (SBA) and voluntary agencies. Work being done by some of these partner agencies to address housing needs includes:

  • SBA provides low interest disaster loans to eligible homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations to repair or replace dwellings real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, and inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed. 
  • HUD is coordinating with FEMA, and affected States, to identify housing providers who may have available housing units, including public housing agencies and multi-family owners.  HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs give State and communities the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster survivors. HUD's Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home.
  • The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are waiving low-income housing tax credit rules that would prohibit owners of low-income housing from providing housing to survivors of Hurricane Sandy who do not qualify as low-income.  This means that there will be an increased availability of housing for disaster survivors and their families.

Through the FEMA Housing Portal, eligible individuals and families who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy can search for available rental units in their area that have been provided by Federal agencies such as HUD, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Veterans Administration, IRS, as well as by private organizations and individuals.

The first step for individuals to be considered for assistance is to register. There are several options for getting help, including:

  • Calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.  The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice; 
  • Registering online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov; or
  • Registering through a web-enabled mobile device at  m.fema.gov

Administrator Fugate Travels to New York to Survey Ongoing Response and Recovery Efforts

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Editor's Note: This post was updated on Monday, November 5, 2012.

Today, Administrator Fugate traveled to New York to meet with state and local officials and survey the ongoing response and recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy. 

Administrator Fugate started the day at a Unified Command Meeting with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, county executives, and other state and local leaders to reiterate that FEMA and the entire federal family are committed to bringing all the needed resources to support New York in its continued response to this disaster.  The group also discussed challenges ahead for the longer term recovery efforts. 

The Administrator then traveled to the New York City Office of Emergency Management headquarters in Brooklyn to meet with their emergency management team, led by Commissioner Joe Bruno. While there, Administrator Fugate participated in a call with the President during which the President received the latest update from his team on ongoing efforts to support governors and local officials in impacted states and made clear that he expects his team to stay completely focused on meeting the needs of our state and local partners, and the families that have been impacted by the storm.

Administrator Fugate then traveled to Breezy Point, Queens to survey the ongoing response and recovery efforts in the borough.  FEMA teams are on the ground there registering survivors for financial assistance from FEMA. It’s important to remember that the first step to receive financial assistance is to register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or visiting www.dissasterassistance.gov on a computer or mobile device. 

As of this afternoon, more than 182,000 people have registered with FEMA and over $158 million has been approved. 

The Administrator then drove to Rockaway, Queens to survey the response and recovery efforts.  There, FEMA staff, the National Guard, New York Fire Department and New York Police Department, and private sector cell phone companies, were all working together to support disaster survivors.  By far, the largest effort has been neighbors helping neighbors clean out homes and start down the road to recovery together.

Also in Rockaway, the Administrator stopped by a FEMA Mobile Disaster Recovery Center, where survivors can find out about the federal financial assistance programs that are available.  The center was being manned by FEMA staff as well as FEMACorps members (you can find out more about FEMACorps here). 

Finally, the Administrator stopped by the Community Church of Nazarene in Far Rockaway, where Rev. Dr. Les Mullings and Congressman Gregory Meeks showed the Administrator around the congregation which was working tirelessly taking in and distributing clothing, as well as serving hot meals to disaster survivors.  Volunteer organizations play such a critical role in disaster response and recovery, not only large organizations like the Red Cross, but small congregations such as this one.

Rockaway, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2012 -- Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, speaks with Hurricane Sandy survivors at the Community Church of the Nazarene. Administrator Fugate visited several parts of New York that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Rockaway, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2012 -- Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, speaks with Hurricane Sandy survivors at the Community Church of the Nazarene. Administrator Fugate visited several parts of New York that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

What was clear from this trip was that the impacted communities are moving forward, but this will be a long recovery, and FEMA will be there supporting states and locals through it all.  Only by working together as a team, will we be successful.  Right now, the first step is for individuals to register for assistance.  Once again, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA, or visit www.disasterassistance.gov on your computer or m.fema.gov on a mobile phone.  Working together, we will recover and we will rebuild.

Sandy Update 6: Registering for Assistance, Over $100 million Already Approved for Disaster Survivors

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As many people across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic continue to recover from Hurricane Sandy, members of the entire emergency management team, including the federal, state, tribal, and local governments, the faith based and non-profit communities, and the public, are working tirelessly to support those across the impacted area.  As of this morning, more than 122,000 people have registered for disaster assistance and more than $107 million in assistance has already been approved.  Here’s a breakdown of disaster assistance by state:

  • New York: over  69,000 registered; more than $75 million in assistance approved
  • New Jersey:  over  49,000 registered; more than $31 million in assistance approved
  • Connecticut:  over 2,400 registered; more than $368,000 in assistance approved

These numbers continue to increase as residential power is being restored and those affected are able to register for assistance with FEMA online, as well as through the 800 number.  If you’ve live in an eligible county and have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, we encourage you to apply for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) TTY 1-800-462-7585 or if you have access to the internet, applying online at www.disasterassistance.gov.

Additionally, as many people have been without power for several days, fuel continues to be a top priority for FEMA. Under direction of President Obama, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) purchased up to 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel for distribution in areas impacted by the storm to supplement ongoing private sector efforts.  Tanker trucks have distributed fuel throughout New York, New Jersey and other communities impacted by the storm. There are currently 10 fuel sites throughout New York and New Jersey where residents can refuel their cars and get gas for generators and other necessities.  We are committed to continuing our support in Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts.

Here are some photos highlighting our ongoing response and recovery efforts as we work to assist those residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Pleasantville, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012 -- At the Red Cross shelter at Pleasantville High School, FEMA Community Relations team member Sandy Hendrix talks with evacuee Lee Davidson about his immediate needs.

Pleasantville, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012 -- At the Red Cross shelter at Pleasantville High School, FEMA Community Relations team member Sandy Hendrix talks with evacuee Lee Davidson about his immediate needs.

Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 31, 2012 -- Through distribution centers in Atlanta, Ga. and Frederick, Md., FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets. As of last evening, more than 305,000 liters of water and more than 185,000 meals in staging at Incident Support Bases in Westover, MA and Lakehurst, NJ, have been transferred to states to supplement their existing inventory. The Incident Support Bases continue to be restocked in anticipation of additional requests for assistance from affected states.

Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 31, 2012 -- Through distribution centers in Atlanta, Ga. and Frederick, Md., FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets. As of last evening, more than 305,000 liters of water and more than 185,000 meals in staging at Incident Support Bases in Westover, MA and Lakehurst, NJ, have been transferred to states to supplement their existing inventory. The Incident Support Bases continue to be restocked in anticipation of additional requests for assistance from affected states.

Riverside, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 -- A fleet of more than 70 Southern California Edison utility trucks is being prepared for transport to the East Coast to help restore power in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The U.S. Air Force will use six C-5 and eight C-17 aircraft to transport the vehicles from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County.

Riverside, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 -- A fleet of more than 70 Southern California Edison utility trucks is being prepared for transport to the East Coast to help restore power in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The U.S. Air Force will use six C-5 and eight C-17 aircraft to transport the vehicles from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County.

Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino is shown damaged businesses in Hoboken, New Jersey by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Hurricane Sandy damaged hundreds of businesses and left most of the town under water.

Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino is shown damaged businesses in Hoboken, New Jersey by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Hurricane Sandy damaged hundreds of businesses and left most of the town under water.

Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations team member Nancy Evans talks with a cleanup volunteer from Hoboken Grace Church. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to provide assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations team member Nancy Evans talks with a cleanup volunteer from Hoboken Grace Church. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to provide assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations team member Joanne Doaring talks with residents Teresa Brenda and Chris Skarantonakis about meeting their immediate needs for food and safe shelter. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to provide assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations team member Joanne Doaring talks with residents Teresa Brenda and Chris Skarantonakis about meeting their immediate needs for food and safe shelter. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to provide assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations team member Ray Vees talks with residents John and Debra Veloce about registering with FEMA after Hurricane Sandy flooded their apartment. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to provide assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations team member Ray Vees talks with residents John and Debra Veloce about registering with FEMA after Hurricane Sandy flooded their apartment. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to provide assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Queens, N.Y., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations (CR) team members moved through Breezy Point and Rockaway, NY, after Hurricane Sandy. The CR members talked with disaster survivors about FEMA assistance and assessed the situation on the ground.

Queens, N.Y., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations (CR) team members moved through Breezy Point and Rockaway, NY, after Hurricane Sandy. The CR members talked with disaster survivors about FEMA assistance and assessed the situation on the ground.

Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 2, 2012 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino, left, and DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary William Bryan, participate on a conference call with NRCC operations from FEMA headquarters to discuss operations for Hurricane Sandy.

Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 2, 2012 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino, left, and DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary William Bryan, participate on a conference call with NRCC operations from FEMA headquarters to discuss operations for Hurricane Sandy.

Charleston, W.Va., Nov. 2, 2012 -- Members of the West Virginia Air National Guard unload food supplies shipped into the state by FEMA effort to support residents impacted by the storm that brought deep snow, heavy rain and high winds to the area. The supplies are moved from the staging area at Charleston's Yeager Airport to distribution points around the state.

Charleston, W.Va., Nov. 2, 2012 -- Members of the West Virginia Air National Guard unload food supplies shipped into the state by FEMA effort to support residents impacted by the storm that brought deep snow, heavy rain and high winds to the area. The supplies are moved from the staging area at Charleston’s Yeager Airport to distribution points around the state.

Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 2, 2012 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino, left, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, speak to local residents at a shelter set up at Susan Wagner high school. The shelter is set up to assist residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 2, 2012 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino, left, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, speak to local residents at a shelter set up at Susan Wagner high school. The shelter is set up to assist residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Cape May, N.J., Nov. 2, 2012 -- Jane Menear talks with FEMA employee Lois Bridges at the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. People affected by Hurricane Sandy can come in and talk to various federal, state and local representatives about questions they have during the recovery process.

Cape May, N.J., Nov. 2, 2012 -- Jane Menear talks with FEMA employee Lois Bridges at the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. People affected by Hurricane Sandy can come in and talk to various federal, state and local representatives about questions they have during the recovery process.

Charleston, W.Va., Nov. 2, 2012 -- Pallets of meals brought by to West Virginia by FEMA for state residents impacted by snow, rain and high winds are prepared for distribution at the Air National Guard Base here. State and local officials are selecting sites to distribute the commodities to residents

Charleston, W.Va., Nov. 2, 2012 -- Pallets of meals brought by to West Virginia by FEMA for state residents impacted by snow, rain and high winds are prepared for distribution at the Air National Guard Base here. State and local officials are selecting sites to distribute the commodities to residents.

Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2012 -- Tanker trucks distribute fuel to residents in New York who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) purchased up to 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel for distribution in areas impacted by the storm to supplement ongoing private sector efforts.

Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2012 -- Tanker trucks distribute fuel to residents in New York who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) purchased up to 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel for distribution in areas impacted by the storm to supplement ongoing private sector efforts.

Freehold, N.J., Nov. 3, 2012 -- Tanker trucks distribute fuel throughout New York, New Jersey and other communities impacted by the storm. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to assist residents affected by the storm.

Freehold, N.J., Nov. 3, 2012 -- Tanker trucks distribute fuel throughout New York, New Jersey and other communities impacted by the storm. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to assist residents affected by the storm.

For more photos on our response and recovery efforts, visit our Photo Library and for more information on Hurricane Sandy, visit the Hurricane Sandy page.

Sandy Update 5: The Next Step After You Register for Disaster Assistance

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Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Inspector Richard Martin inspects a basement apartment in Hoboken two days after the residents applied for FEMA assistance. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to provide assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 -- FEMA Inspector Richard Martin inspects a basement apartment in Hoboken two days after the residents applied for FEMA assistance. FEMA is working with many partners and organizations to provide assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

We understand the mixed range of emotions survivors may be experiencing after going through a catastrophic and life changing disaster.  Many people are returning home to find that everything they’ve ever known is completely destroyed.  During these difficult times, it’s hard to even process everything that has occurred over the past several days, let alone think about the next steps -- but we’re here to help you through the disaster registration process and make it as easy as possible.

If you’re a survivor in one of the declared counties you should call to apply for federal assistance.  If you have access to the Internet, you can apply online and on your mobile device too.  If you don’t have access to the Internet, please call 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) TTY 1-800-462-7585.  Our online application is an easier and faster way to apply for assistance, visit at www.disasterassistance.gov to complete your application. You should also be aware that FEMA often opens Disaster Recovery Centers  in disaster areas, once they are established in your area, you can visit the location to speak to someone in person about available disaster programs.

Once you’ve applied for federal assistance, here’s what you can expect next:

  1. Applicants who register with FEMA will be given a personal application number. This number will be used to provide later to a FEMA Housing Inspector. So it’s important that you write this number down, and keep it secure and handy for future use.
  2.  A FEMA Housing Inspector will contact you to make an appointment to visit your property within 14 days after you apply. The inspector will assess disaster related damage for your real and personal property.

    Important notes:
  • There is no fee for the inspection.
  • Inspectors are contractors, not FEMA employees, but your inspector will have picture identification.
  • It is important to understand that you or someone 18 years of age who lived in the household prior to the disaster must be present for your scheduled appointment. This inspection generally takes 30-40 minutes but can be shorter, and consists of a general inspection of damaged areas of your home and a review of your records.It’s also important to understand what the inspector will be asking of you. 

    The inspector will ask to see:
  • Picture Identification
  • Proof of Ownership/Occupancy of damaged residence (Structural Insurance, Tax Bill, Mortgage Payment Book/Utility Bill)
  • Insurance documents: Home and/or Auto (Structural Insurance/Auto Declaration Sheet)
  • List of household occupants living in residence at time of disaster
  • All disaster related damages to both real and personal property
  1. Once the inspection process is complete, your case will be reviewed by FEMA and you will receive a letter, or email if you signed up for E-Correspondence, outlining the decision.
  2. If you qualify for a FEMA grant, FEMA will send you a check by mail or deposit it directly into your bank account. You will also receive a letter describing how you are to use the money.  You should only use the money given to you as explained in the letter and save receipts on how you spent the money.
  3. If you do not qualify for a FEMA grant, you will receive a letter explaining why you were turned down and will be given a chance to appeal the decision. Your appeal rights will be described in this letter. Appeals must be in writing and mailed within 60 days of FEMA’s decision.
  4. If you’re referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA), you will receive a SBA application. The application must be completed and returned in order to be considered for a loan as well as certain types of grant assistance. SBA representatives are available to help you with the application at local Disaster Recovery Centers. Completing and returning the loan application does not mean that you must accept the loan.

As with all disasters, FEMA is just part of the team that supports disaster response and recovery efforts.  That team is comprised of tribal, territorial, state, and local governments, faith-based and community organizations as well as the private sector and voluntary organizations.  Together we are working to help survivors through this difficult time in their lives. 

If you know someone who lives in an eligible county and has suffered damages from Hurricane Sandy or if you have suffered damages yourself, we encourage you to register for federal disaster assistance as soon as possible.  The sooner you apply, the faster you will receive a reply and can move forward in the recovery process. 

And if you were not affected by Hurricane Sandy but know survivors, please help us spread the message and encourage them to apply for assistance. 

Here are some other ways everyone can help Hurricane Sandy survivors:

  • Cash is the most efficient method of donating – Cash offers voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover.

Also, please review our page with info on volunteering and donating responsibly.

We are committed in continuing to provide support to the governors, tribal leaders and communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  As response efforts continue, FEMA and our federal partners have been in close contact with emergency officials to assess the unmet needs of survivors. Visit our Hurricane Sandy page for updates and other resources related to response and recovery efforts.

Getting Gas Pumps Flowing

Author: 

We know some residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy are experiencing long lines at gas stations and some states are facing fuel shortages.  At FEMA, and across the federal government, we recognize this problem and we are taking immediate steps to address this in three primary ways.

First, we are working to increase fuel supply so that resources are getting to impacted areas.  Hurricane Sandy disrupted the normal flow of fuel by preventing ships from entering vital ports in the Northeast and creating navigation hazards.                                  

This morning, Secretary Napolitano issued a temporary, blanket waiver of the Jones Act to immediately allow additional oil tankers coming from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports. This will provide more fuel to the region.  The Coast Guard also has re-opened the port of New York to all tug and barge traffic carrying petroleum products.  And Customs and Border Protection are working to ensure air and sea ports in the affected areas are fully staffed and ready to receive passengers and cargo as they return to operation.  In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act to temporarily waive certain federal gasoline requirements for gas sold and distributed in more than a dozen states.  This waiver will help ensure an adequate supply of fuels in the impacted states.

Second, we are coordinating with states and the private sector to accelerate the distribution of fuel to retail locations.  Due to the storm, some refineries and fuel facilities had to be taken off-line and others reduced operations. The Department of Energy is working with industry partners to ensure that the infrastructure to deliver petroleum is up and running to meet fuel demands.  

Normal operations have already resumed at two major refineries in Delaware and New Jersey, and pipeline companies have restored services to six pipelines servicing New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and north to Maine.  In short, we are working with companies and refineries and infrastructure owners to bring facilities back on line, increase production, and get more fuel flowing.

Finally, we are partnering with major utilities and the private sector to restore power so that gas stations that do have fuel in their tanks are able to get the pumps working again. President Obama has established a national power restoration working group to cut through the red tape, increase federal, state, tribal, local and private sector coordination and restore power to people as quickly as possible. 

Yesterday more than 60 power restoration vehicles and crews from private utility companies were airlifted from California to New York to assist with restoration.  The federal government also has provided hundreds of generators to help critical infrastructure sites and fuel stations operate until full power is restored.  Fuel points of distribution locations also are being identified and will be established in hard hit areas to accelerate fuel distribution.

It will take some time for our nation’s fuel supply chain to get back to full capacity.  But we are taking immediate steps in the short term to address the problem and fuel is now flowing into impacted areas.

Keeping Children Safe in Sandy’s Wake

Author: 

(The views expressed by Ms. Chung do not necessarily represent the official views of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, entities, or services.)

Although Sandy has passed, for millions in states along the east coast there are still many hazards. It is important to take steps to protect children, as they are especially vulnerable to the environmental hazards that may be present. Here are some tips parents should keep in mind:

Flood Water Safety

  • Parents or other caregivers should directly supervise children - this prevents them from playing in or around floodwaters. It doesn't take long and it doesn't take much water for children to drown.
  • Watch for live wires or power sources - electricity from streetlights and downed power lines may be active and may cause a deadly shock through contact with standing water or direct contact with live lines.
  • Keep children from playing around drainage ditches, storm drains, river channels, or any place with moving/standing water - children can fall in, get stuck, or drown.
  • Be aware of what’s in the water - standing or flood waters can be contaminated and cause children to become sick. Playing in water could also result in being bitten by snakes, rodents or other wildlife.

Home Safety

  • Lock the door - In preparation for the storm, many people filled bathtubs and buckets with water to use for drinking or washing. If this is the case, keep everything in one room and lock it away from young children, as they can drown quickly in very small amounts of water.
  • Be mindful when using candles or heat sources - Make sure to watch small children around lit candles, and don’t forget to blow them out when leaving the room. Supervise children directly when there are portable grills or sources of heat or fire.
  • Turn off vehicles - In order to recharge cell phones and other electronics, people may leave their cars running. Be sure children don’t climb or play in the car. Don’t leave vehicles running inside garages or in any closed area where carbon monoxide can collect.
  • Leave it out in the open - Portable generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but they can be hazardous. The primary hazards to avoid when using them are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock or electrocution, and fire. For tips on using generators safely, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website.

Addressing the Emotional Impacts from Sandy

Sandy was very frightening for many adults, so imagine how scary the storm was for children who experienced it firsthand, or even those who simply watched it on television. For kids, no amount of time or statistics really explains the weather event that just occurred or provides comfort in its wake. They may have lost pets, favorite toys, or other cherished treasures, and they may not understand why parents must dispose of their contaminated belongings during the clean-up process.

Here are some helpful tips to support children in recovering and coping with the situation:

  • Limit TV and other media coverage of the storm and its impact (such as Internet, social media, and radio interviews of victims) - Listening to stories about the impact of disasters can cause further distress to children and adults. Realize that children should not be exposed to the same amount and level of media coverage being viewed by adults.
  • Keep to a routine - Help your children feel they still have a sense of structure, making them feel more at ease or provide a sense of familiarity. When schools open again, help them return to normal activities including going back to class and participating in sports and play groups.
  • Make time for them - Help kids understand they are safe and secure by talking, playing and doing other family activities with them. To help younger children feel safe and calm, read them their favorite book, play a relaxing family game or activity. For other ideas, visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website.
  • Encourage and answer questions - Talk with your children about the event and what is being done to keep them safe and help with the recovery process. Realize that children’s concerns may be very different that those of adults, so be sure to ask them what they are concerned about. When children ask about whether another storm may occur, realize that their underlying question is likely whether or not they need to worry that a storm as bad as Sandy is likely to occur. Help them understand that while storms are common, Sandy was a particularly devastating storm and that other bad weather that may occur in the near future is unlikely to cause as many problems. Help them understand what is being done to protect them and their families from future harm and why other storms are unlikely to be as destructive.
  • Provide realistic reassurance - Children’s worries may be based on misunderstanding or misinformation. When possible, provide realistic reassurance. But if their concerns are real, acknowledge their concerns and help them think through strategies to deal with their distress. Remember, if children feel they are worried – they are worried.

Here are some other useful resources to help children cope with a disaster:

American Academy of Pediatrics

Other Resources

Promoting Youth Preparedness

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