RICHMOND, Va. -- Individuals who suffered damage from Tropical Depression Gaston and were insured may still be eligible for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"If you were uninsured or your insurance policy did not cover some of your disaster-related damages or losses, FEMA may be able to help," Federal Coordinating Officer Marianne C. Jackson said. "If you have insurance, your first call should be to your agent. Your next call should be to apply with FEMA."
Anyone who sustained damage should apply for assistance with FEMA by calling the toll-free application number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The special number for those with speech or hearing impairment is TTY 1-800-462-7585. The phone lines are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until further notice - including weekends.
Even if disaster victims have insurance, they may be eligible for disaster assistance. In order to complete the application for assistance, however, FEMA will need the resident's insurance settlement information to avoid any duplication of benefits.
"Disaster assistance is designed to cover uninsured and under-insured disaster-related losses, but cannot duplicate services and funds compensated by an insurance claim or provided by another assistance program," Virginia Department of Emergency Management Coordinator Michael M. Cline, state coordinating officer, said.
The disaster programs available include: grants for temporary housing and repairs to make a home safe and sanitary; low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for homeowners, renters or business owners; and, other aid programs including disaster unemployment assistance for self-employed individuals.
Uninsured and underinsured losses that may be covered by SBA low-interest loans include debris removal on personal property, damaged and destroyed fences, tree trimming services, tree replacement, damaged and destroyed sheds and other outbuildings and landscaping losses.
FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate for anyone's entire loss. Residents should contact their insurance agents first and then call FEMA to apply. The government may help pay for basic needs not covered by insurance. Some disaster aid does not have to be paid back, while other forms of help may come in the form of loans. The FEMA representative will explain the details to you when you call.
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.