Quincy, MA -- If you're among thousands of Massachusetts residents putting lives and property back in order after the March floods, you may have questions about the help available to you under President Bush's disaster declaration.
"If you live in Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk or Worcester County and have uninsured damage or losses, the first step is to register for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-462-9029," said Stephen J. McGrail, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
For those who have registered, Louis H. Botta, the federal coordinating officer for the disaster recovery effort in Massachusetts, provided these answers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to some frequently asked questions.
Q. I received a FEMA check for damage but my insurance company covered the repairs. What should I do with the FEMA check?
A. You may not take repair money from your insurance company and from FEMA for the same damages. That's called "duplication of benefits." If the money you receive from insurance is for the same damages, you must return the federal assistance to the address on the top of the FEMA letter you received. If you're not sure, you can call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-525-0321. The number for speech- or hearing-impaired persons is 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).
Q. I need help but I don't think I'm eligible for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. Should I fill out the SBA form anyway?
A. Yes. Fill out the SBA loan application and return it to the address on the packet. If SBA determines you are not eligible for a loan, your case may be referred to the Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program. You do not need to apply separately to the IFG program.
Q. My family and I had to move to a motel because our house was flooded. Can I get reimbursement for the cost of the room?
A. You may be eligible for reimbursement based on daily rental and lodging costs. If you have been found eligible for FEMA Disaster Housing Assistance, send your motel receipts to the address on the FEMA letter that explained your eligibility. FEMA will not reimburse for food, laundry or phone calls while you are in the hotel or motel.
Q. I found additional damage not recorded by the FEMA inspector. What should I do?
A. If you feel you had additional damage, which the inspector did not address, you may write an appeal letter (include estimates and receipts) to the address provided in the FEMA letter. You can also call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-525-0321 and explain your situation. The telephone number for speech- and hearing-impaired applicants is 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).