TRENTON, N.J. -- Understanding the steps of the FEMA and state recovery process can help victims of severe storms and flooding make sound decisions as they begin to rebuild their lives.
APPLYING FOR FEDERAL DISASTER ASSISTANCE
- Call the special toll-free number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for those with hearing or speech impairment, to begin the application process or register online at www.fema.gov. Both phone lines are open Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed on Sun. until further notice. Multilingual operators are available to assist callers.
- This call begins the application process and usually takes only 15-20 minutes to complete. It addresses general questions regarding damages, income, insurance, and other details about housing needs.
- The applicant is given an identification number. This number should be written down.
- Within a few days, an application package that includes a Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loan application may be sent. It is very important for applicants to complete and return it. Failure to complete and return the SBA package could cause denial of other forms of assistance.
- The call is confidential under the Privacy Act of 1974 and the information will be used only to determine what type of assistance is most appropriate.
- Within 7-10 days, an inspector will arrange an appointment to verify the damages.
- Inspectors must show official photo ID to prove their identity.
- Inspectors do not recommend repairs or charge for their services.
- If the applicant qualifies for FEMA assistance, a check will be mailed within 7-10 days following the inspection. For those with direct deposit, funds can be transferred within 24 hours.
- A letter explaining how the money may be used is mailed separately.
- Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are available to residents and they provide an opportunity to ask with disaster recovery specialists face-to-face. These centers are also a resource for anyone, even those who did not suffer damage from this disaster, to find out more about cost-effective measures to reduce potential losses from future disasters.
After you have applied for assistance, you can call the same toll-free numbers - 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 - to ask about the status of your application, how money from various assistance programs may be used, get information on the flood insurance program, or get materials on low-cost ways to reduce future disaster damages.
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 the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.