West Salem, WI -- After a disaster strikes, seeking financial assistance can seem confusing.
There's often a lot of paperwork to do and questions to answer about insurance coverage and income, to determine what help is available for uninsured or underinsured losses.
If you live in one of the declared counties, the first step in registering for assistance is to call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) toll--free at 1--800--462--9029.
After a call is taken and a disaster application recorded, the processing begins. Some applicants may receive a letter requesting additional information such as insurance coverage or other financial statements. Sometimes final eligibility for disaster aid cannot be determined until after an insurance settlement.
"If at any time you have any questions about your application, your visit by an inspector, or any correspondence you receive, you can call FEMA's toll--free Helpline at 1--800--525--0321," said Tom Davies of FEMA, the federal coordinating officer for the Wisconsin disaster recovery.
People who have registered with FEMA may receive a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan application. These forms are sent to all applicants (both individuals and business owners) who may qualify for a loan. SBA loans may be used for the repair and rebuilding costs that are not fully covered by insurance and other disaster recovery programs. You can use a loan to restore your home and personal property to its pre--disaster condition.
To be considered for further assistance, the SBA disaster loan application must be completed and returned. However, this does not mean people are required to take out a loan.
If you do not qualify for a loan, you may be referred for a grant from the Individual and Family Grant Program (IFG). This program is administered by the state and is funded jointly by the federal and state governments. IFG helps pay for approved disaster--related expenses and does not need to be repaid. It is intended for essential needs not met by other forms of assistance. You do not apply for it separately; if you are eligible, you will be referred automatically.
FEMA also has a special TTY number -- 1--800--462--7585 -- for applications and help for people with speech or hearing impairments.