Baltimore, MD -- Understanding the steps of the federal/state recovery process can help people reduce the confusion brought on by disaster, sort out the information available, and make the decisions required to begin rebuilding lives. The first step is to register for assistance with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (or TTY 1-800-462-7585) between 7 a.m. and midnight, daily until further notice.
The phone call takes about 20 minutes. You will be asked general information about your income, insurance coverage and how badly your residence or business was damaged. You should be prepared to give details about your housing needs, the location of the damaged property and a phone number where you can be reached. You should have the following information available when you make the call:
- Applicant's full legal name
- Applicant's Social Security number
- Current telephone number(s)
- Current and pre-disaster addresses
- Insurance coverage, policy number(s) and agent's name
- Proof of residency
- Concise statement of the type, location, and extent of damage
You must also inform your insurance carrier of your losses and follow their procedures for filing a claim. Even if you have insurance, you should also register with FEMA. Disaster assistance may be available to help uninsured or underinsured losses or expenses.
After you have registered for assistance, FEMA's toll-free number, 1 800 621 FEMA (3362), (TTY: 1 800 462 7585), becomes a useful resource. Call it if you have questions about the assistance process, programs available, use of grant money received, or to check on the status of your application. The line is open from 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, until further notice.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.