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Avoiding Scam Artists during Sandy Recovery

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As Sandy survivors continue to register for disaster assistance with FEMA and many others begin the process of cleaning and repairing their homes, we wanted to remind everyone that as you look for contractors and companies to assist you with your recovery process, be mindful of scams and scam artists. 

Although many businesses, voluntary, faith-based, and community-based organizations, government agencies and committed citizens come together to try and meet the needs of the affected individuals and communities, disasters  can also bring out criminals looking to prey on survivors by offering fraudulent services.

To help you spot fraud, here is a list of consumer safety tips to keep in mind when applying for disaster assistance and working with contractors:

  1. There is never a fee to apply for FEMA disaster assistance or to receive it. 
  2. There is no fee for FEMA or U.S. Small Business Administration property damage inspections. 
  3. The only ways to register for FEMA help are to: call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585), visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or m.fema.gov from a smartphone or Web-enabled device, speak to a FEMA employee at a Disaster Recovery Center.
  4. Government workers will never ask for a fee or payment. They wear an official government photo ID.  Watch out for middle men who promise you will receive money, especially if they ask for an up-front payment.
  5. Get three written estimates for repair work. Then check credentials and contact your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce to learn about any complaints against the contractor or business.
  6. Before work begins, make sure you get a written contract detailing all the work to be performed, the costs, a projected completion date, and how to negotiate changes and settle disputes. 
  7. Make sure the contract clearly states who will obtain the necessary permits. Consider having a lawyer review the contract if substantial costs are involved. Keep a copy of the signed contract. 
  8. If the contractor provides any guarantees, they should be written into the contract clearly, stating what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee and how long the guarantee is valid. 
  9. Pay only by check or a credit card. A reasonable down payment may be required to buy materials for some projects, but don't pay anything without a signed contract. 

If you suspect anyone – an inspector, disaster survivor, or someone posing as one of these – of fraudulent activities, call our toll-free Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, or your local law enforcement officials.

If you’re a survivor and haven’t registered for assistance yet, please see #3 above, because registering for assistance is the first step. 

While we’re discussing scams, we wanted to address a few rumors and potential scams that have recently been reported and mentioned on many social media channels:

  • FEMA is providing $300 for food assistance - This is FALSE.
  • FEMA is hiring for cleanup crews and inspectors - This is FALSE.
  • FEMA is giving out cash cards to disaster survivors - This is FALSE.

None of the rumors are true, so if you see or hear people discussing or passing these rumors along, please help us spread the message that they are false. For more information on these and other rumors floating around, visit our Hurricane Sandy Rumor Control Page.

Assisting Survivors Through our Disaster Recovery Centers & Community Relations Specialists

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Since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, FEMA has been working hard to make sure disaster survivors receive the information and help they need to apply for disaster assistance with us and our partners, as well as other organizations that provide assistance.

One of the ways we’re reaching out to survivors is through our Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs). At these centers, disaster survivors can meet one-on-one with officials from voluntary and non-profit agencies, local communities, and state and federal agencies such as FEMA and the Small Business Administration.  Personnel staffing the DRCs are there to answer questions from survivors about the types of assistance available, how to apply for assistance and details about how exactly the recovery process works.  It is important to note that survivors do not need to visit DRCs to apply for assistance. The centers are simply another resource that FEMA is using to get everyone the help they need. 

As of today, 30 Disaster Recovery Centers are open in New York, 23 in New Jersey and seven in Connecticut and more continue to open.  FEMA is working closely with state and local officials in the hardest hit areas to identify future DRC sites that are accessible to those who need help and are large enough to handle the full suite of services.

In addition to our Recovery Centers, we are also out in the communities working to assist survivors through our Community Relations (CR) specialists who are going door-to-door in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to help explain the types of assistance that are available through the federal government and to help residents register. Having these teams on the ground allow us to reach survivors in their homes and communities as quickly and effectively as possible. The Community Relations teams also help to dispel rumors in the community, identify if survivors need translated information, and coordinate and assist those with functional or access needs.

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 together to support those across the impacted area. If you need help applying for assistance, please visit a DRC or speak to a Community Relations specialist.

There are four ways you can find a disaster recovery center location,

  1. Search on your computer
  2. Search on your mobile phone at m.fema.gov
  3. Text DRC and your Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) For example, if you lived in Atlantic City, NJ you would text: DRC 08401 (standard data rates apply)
  4. Use the FEMA smartphone app and locate one on the map

The content is updated regularly, so be sure to check for updates, changes and new locations. 

Veterans Helping Survivors on the Road to Recovery

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With so many New Yorkers facing the overwhelming and exhausting task of cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy, a group of former veterans known as Team Rubicon have become very popular. And rightly so.

“We were exhausted after the first few days,” said Rockaway homeowner Barbara Millet, “but they just showed up. My mother-in-law calls them angels.”

Founded by two former Marines following the Haitian earthquake in 2010, members of Team Rubicon use skills acquired in the military to assist people affected by disasters.  In the past 10 days, the team has deployed hundreds of volunteers to the Northeast to help Sandy survivors clean houses, remove trees, repair roofs and manage debris as they begin their road to recovery. 

FEMA partners with numerous voluntary agencies to provide a wide range of crucial assistance to survivors who may have needs beyond what the state or federal assistance can provide. And this Veterans Day the agency would like to salute Team Rubicon, FEMA’s nearly 3,000 veteran employees, the thousands of veterans in the other federal agencies supporting the response and the more than 12,000 active duty, reserve and National Guard personnel who have been a part of Sandy response operations.

In honor of Veterans Day, Team Rubicon has been joined by volunteers from other veteran groups who have come together for a day of service. Some 1,000 veterans traveled to New York to support survivors as they recover from Sandy.  Representatives from Give an Hour, the 6th Branch, The Mission Continues, the Pat Tillman Foundation, the Headstrong Project, Got Your 6, Student Veterans of America, and Team Red, White, & Blue will be participating.

“A lot of times, people will see us out in the community and they will ask us how they can volunteer” says Andrew Stevens, Team Rubicon’s National Director of Field Operations. “Because of our organizational skills and experience in disaster relief, we’re able to put them to work right away.”

FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaison (VAL) works with state and local governments to establish volunteer reception centers. Unaffiliated volunteers who come to the centers are directed to one of the many voluntary organizations active in disaster relief efforts.  Other groups currently working with Sandy survivors in New York include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Southern Baptists, Adventist Community Services and other national and local voluntary organizations. 

In addition to these organizations, individuals interested in volunteering time or donating money to help New Yorkers recover from Sandy can contact New York Cares at 212-228-5000 or NYC Service.

Housing Options for Hurricane Sandy Survivors

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FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support New Jersey and New York in meeting the housing needs of survivors of Hurricane Sandy.

As we begin to focus on longer-term recovery from the storm, the affected states are taking the lead to identify their local needs and resources by convening State-led Disaster Housing Task Forces.  The State-led Disaster Housing Task Forces in New York and New Jersey involve a collaborative approach to addressing the temporary housing and long-term needs of the disaster survivors, including the collection of available rental resources, projecting housing needs and exploring other options.   Task Forces include representatives from state, local, and voluntary agencies, and federal partners including FEMA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The teams are working together to ensure they are making the greatest use of existing housing resources (such as apartments and rental units), enlisting voluntary agencies to make minor repairs so survivors can remain in their homes, and investigating other temporary housing options suitable for the area. 

In coordination with the State-Led Housing Task Forces, FEMA has several temporary housing assistance options that can help to ensure survivors have access to safe, secure housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The types of housing assistance used will depend on the needs of each individual community and can include:

  • Transitional Housing Assistance: 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.
  • Housing Rental Assistance: If a home cannot be repaired easily to safe and sanitary conditions, then local rental resources are the preferred first choice for housing disaster survivors as they recover. FEMA authorized funds to increase the amount of rental assistance that it may provide eligible disaster survivors in New York and New Jersey to 125 percent.  This increase will be implemented when a survivor is recertified for a continued need for temporary housing assistance.  The approved increase is expected to make an additional 1,800 rental resources available for temporary housing of disaster-impacted families in New York, and an additional 1,200 rental resources available for similar families in New Jersey.

Families and individuals in eligible counties within New York and New Jersey, who are registered for federal disaster assistance and seeking rental resources can search through hundreds of listings on the FEMA Housing Portal. The FEMA Housing Portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by a variety of federal agencies, including HUD, USDA, and VA, and also lists rental properties provided by private organizations and property owners willing to help their neighbors during these difficult times.

To ensure FEMA is able to meet the housing needs of all survivors, FEMA is also pre-staging Temporary Housing Units (THUs) for possible use in New York and New Jersey, in the event that the units are requested by the states. Manufactured housing (i.e. temporary housing units) may be provided, at the request of the state, as the option of last resort in areas with limited available rental resources.  These manufactured homes are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are built to the same strong standards as millions of manufactured housing units being lived in across the nation and that consumers across the country can purchase.  FEMA is not a manufacturer of housing units; rather, it is a purchaser of manufactured homes.  Manufacturers are required, at a minimum, to meet the standards identified in the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Standard, 24 CFR 3280 Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. To date, State-led Housing Task Forces continue to review various housing options, and there have been no requests by New Jersey or New York for use of manufactured housing (temporary housing units).

The first step to receive housing assistance is by registering for disaster 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.

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

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.

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