Frequently Asked Questions About Disaster Aid

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Release date: 
October 13, 1999
Release Number: 


Q: After I've called the toll-free toll free application number, when can I expect an inspector will visit my property?

A: In general, an inspector will arrange with you to visit your property within a week to 10 days after you've called the application number. Eligible applicants can generally expect to receive their first disaster assistance checks - to help them make minimal repairs to their house or pay for safe and sanitary housing - within seven to 10 days after the inspection. But you must first start the process by calling FEMA's toll-free application hotline, 1-800-462-9029 (1-800-462-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired).

After you've called the application number, you can check on the status of your application by calling the FEMA Helpline, at 1-800-525-0321.

Q: Should I wait until after the inspection to start cleaning and fixing my house?

A: No. You should start to clean and fix your house as soon as possible. You should take photos or videos of the destruction and keep lists of items destroyed. You should also keep your receipts for possible reimbursement.

Q: I applied for FEMA aid, but then was mailed a low-interest loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration. I don't want a loan. I want a grant. What should I do with the loan application?

A: Take a few minutes to complete the application. The SBA may determine that you cannot afford to repay a loan, and may then refer your case to FEMA for a possible grant. But the loan application helps ensure that money in the Individual and Family Grant program - one of the main disaster assistance grant programs -- is given to the people most in need. If you don't complete and return the loan application, you will no longer be considered for possible grants.

Q: Will FEMA pay for all of my damage?

A: No. By law both the state and federal grant programs address only emergency repairs and needs. The assistance is intended to get you on your feet, not restore you to pre-disaster condition.

Q: I'm not sure if my insurance will cover my losses. What should I do?

A: FEMA will not duplicate insurance benefits but you may be eligible for help with losses not covered or damage in excess of your coverage. That's why it's important to register for assistance even while you are working with your insurance company to assess your insurance coverage.

Q: Can I get the FEMA check directly deposited into my account?

A: Yes. FEMA disaster assistance checks can be mailed or directly deposited into a resident's bank account. Direct deposit is a much quicker option, shaving as much as five days off the time to receive the check through the mail.

Q: My house is continually flooding. Are there programs available that can help me make my property safer from future floods?

A: There likely will be some funds available through the state of North Carolina that will be used to help people whose destroyed homes were located in flood zones. Both FEMA and the state of North Carolina will contribute money to the fund, which will be used to purchase the properties of people whose homes are in especially flood-prone areas. Applications for these funds can be made to the state only by communities - not by individuals. People interested in such programs should contact their city or county planning department, local emergency manager or local flood-plain administrator.

Also, if local flood regulations prevent you from rebuilding in a flood zone, the U.S. Small Business Administration might be able to provide you with a low-interest loan to help you relocate. Low-interest SBA loans may also be increased by as much as 20 percent to help you take other measures to protect your home from future floods.

Q: If I want a home buyout, should I fix up my house now?

A: Absolutely. The voluntary buyout program can be an extensive process. We ...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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