Misunderstandings May Cause Some To Miss Disaster Aid

Main Content
Release date: 
October 26, 2000
Release Number: 
1346-06

Lansing, MI -- In the confusion that often follows a disaster, half-truths and rumors about how they can find help may mislead residents. According to state and federal disaster recovery officials, the best way to avoid that problem is to call FEMA yourself to see what kind of assistance is available to you.

Wayne County residents who suffered damages and losses because of the severe storms and flooding on September 10 and 11 can apply for assistance immediately by calling the FEMA toll-free number, 1-800-462-9029. Those with a speech-or hearing-impairment can call TTY 1-800-462-7585. Both lines are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

Some common misconceptions about disaster assistance are: 

I have insurance. There is no other help available to me. 

Not True: Insurance should be your main source for money to put your life back in order after the flood. But there are many things that insurance does not cover. That is where federal and state disaster programs may be helpful. You may also be uninsured or "underinsured" and disaster assistance can help make up the difference; however you cannot receive funds more than one time for the same damages.

I have to wait for my insurance adjuster before I apply for disaster assistance.

Not True: You do not have to wait for an adjuster before applying for FEMA disaster aid or making repairs needed to make your house livable. However, you should find out what your policy covers, and be sure to keep papers and receipts for any work.

I have legal concerns about the damages caused by the flooding and sewerage backup. Does this means that I should wait to apply to FEMA.

Not True: You should apply to FEMA immediately to start the process. The FEMA application does NOT affect your ability to recover through other avenues for losses not covered by disaster assistance programs.

I already repaired my home and don't have my receipts so I can't get help.

Not True: You could qualify for reimbursement of expenses not covered by insurance if you can show evidence of the repairs.

I have to be poor to qualify for disaster aid.

Not True: Federal and state disaster assistance programs may be available to those who suffered damage, regardless of income. The programs are not "welfare." The kinds of help provided depend on the applicant's circumstances.

I have to be turned down by my bank before I can apply for a disaster loan.

Not True: The Small Business Administration (SBA), which handles low-interest disaster loans, has its own criteria for determining each loan applicant's eligibility. The SBA will decide whether or not you are able to repay a loan. If you are not qualified for a loan, you may be eligible for a grant, but it is necessary to go through the SBA application process first.

I must own a business to apply for a loan from the SBA.

Not True: Based on the type and extent of "uninsured" or "underinsured" disaster-related losses and damages, individuals may be eligible for low-interest loans for home or personal property losses.

I rent an apartment. I can't get help to replace my damaged property.

Not True: A renter may qualify for an SBA low-interest disaster loan or a cash grant to replace personal property. One type of grant may cover temporary housing needs if a r...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Back to Top