Reisterstown, MD -- Federal Coordinating Officer William Lokey urges residents with significant damage from Hurricane Isabel to make the phone call to begin the application process. Residents with minimal damage are asked to wait a few days before calling. All residents in the state of Maryland who received damage from the storm have sixty days to apply for assistance.
"A phone call begins the application process. Our specially trained operators will walk you through the process, which is very easy," Lokey said. "Please remember that while federal disaster assistance cannot replace all that is lost, we are here to help you get back on the path to recovery."
Disaster victims register for assistance by calling a toll-free number: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The number for speech and hearing impaired individuals is: 1-800-462-7585. The phone interview is the beginning of the application process. No decision is made about eligibility at this point. Callers receive information and applications - not goods or cash - based on these interviews. However, the information provided by the applicant allows the various federal agencies to make the necessary decisions.
The application process can be speeded up if the following information is readily available:
- Current and pre-disaster address (if appropriate)
- Proof of residency
- Current telephone numbers
- Insurance coverage; policy number(s) and agent's name
The application packet may contain a loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Applicants must fill out and return the loan application to SBA to be considered for a loan and other forms of federal and state assistance, including grants to cover their losses. If the loan application is not returned, other forms of assistance may not be available.
The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Saturday, September 20, from 7 a.m. to midnight seven days a week until further notice.
Applicants should contact their insurance company and file necessary claims before calling FEMA. It's important to understand that government assistance does not cover damage or losses already covered by private insurance. Federal disaster aid does not guarantee total recovery from all disaster losses. Assistance is limited to assisting in returning damaged or lost property to its pre-disaster condition or to meeting necessary expenses and serious needs.
Here is some brief information about federal disaster assistance:
Temporary Housing Assistance: The Temporary Housing Assistance Program is administered by FEMA and provides financial assistance to make limited repairs to homes that are damaged by disasters. The program may also provide rental assistance to individuals whose homes are more substantially damaged. The type of assistance is determined by FEMA, based on criteria that assure that the option chosen is appropriate to the individual's need and can be delivered quickly.
Disaster Loans: The Small Business Administration (SBA) can make federally subsidized low-interest loans to repair or replace homes, personal property or businesses, which sustained damages, not covered by insurance. For many persons this loan program is the primary form of disaster assistance they receive.
Other Needs Assistance Grants: This program is a joint effort between FEMA and the state to provide grants to those individuals or families who are not eligible for an SBA loan. The program assists with repair or replacement of personal property, including such things as clothing, appliances and furniture. In addition, some assistance from this program may be available to help cover transpor...