JACKSON , Miss. -- As the March 11, 2006 deadline to apply for Individual Assistance through the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) nears, Mississippi residents need to receive pertinent and factual information to get help and be aware of the various assistance programs that are available.
"Remember, federal and state assistance is different from that of the voluntary agencies. Even if you have received help from those agencies, you also need to apply for federal and state assistance," said Robert Latham, Director of Mississippi Emergency Management.
"When you have suffered a loss, the last thing you need is misinformation," said Nick Russo, federal coordinating officer for the Mississippi disaster recovery effort. "If you have questions about the type of assistance available for you and your household call FEMA's Helpline."
Some facts about disaster assistance:
- Registration with the American Red Cross or other non-profit agency is not the same as applying with FEMA. For federal and state disaster assistance, you must apply by calling the toll-free application number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 for speech- or hearing- impaired or online at www.fema.gov.
- Insurance is your main source for financial assistance to recover after a disaster. Federal and state disaster programs may be able to help with losses not covered by insurance policies. Households could qualify for reimbursement of expenses not covered by your insurance.
- You do not have to wait for an agent's or adjuster's inspection before applying for aid or making repairs needed to make your house safe, sanitary and functional. However, if you have insurance, you should find out what your policy covers, and be sure to keep papers and receipts for any purchases or repairs. If you still have unmet disaster-related needs, you should call FEMA to apply.
- You do not need to have a low income to qualify for assistance. Federal and state disaster assistance programs may be available to those who suffered damage regardless of income. The type of assistance provided depends on the applicant's circumstances and unmet needs.
- You do not have to be a small business to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration ( SBA) loan. Renters and homeowners may be eligible for low-interest loans for home or personal property losses, based on the type and extent of ?uninsured? or ?underinsured? disaster-related losses.
- The SBA Disaster Assistance Program, which handles low-interest disaster loans, has its own criteria for determining each applicant's eligibility. The SBA will process your loan application to a decision. If they are unable to approve your loan application, you may be eligible for Other Needs Assistance through FEMA, but generally it is necessary to go through the SBA application process first.
- A renter may qualify for an SBA low-interest disaster loan to replace personal property. One type of grant may cover temporary housing needs if a renter has to move to another dwelling. Another type of grant may be available to eligible individuals or families with serious disaster-related needs and expenses that are not covered by insurance or other disaster assistance programs .
Federal and state disaster recovery officials urge those who have not done so to apply as soon as possible by calling the toll-free application number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 for speech- or hearing-impaired. Individuals may also register for disaster assistance online at www.fema.gov . The deadline for applications for Individual Assistance is Marc...