EAGLE PASS, Texas -- In the days and weeks following a disaster, residents may be misled by half-truths and rumors concerning recovery help. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Governor?s Division of Emergency Management, the best way to avoid misinformation is to verify facts with a responsible source. Below are some of the most common untruths along with the real facts.
Some common misconceptions concerning disaster assistance are:
I have insurance, so there?s no other help available to me.
Not True: Insurance is your first and main source for money to put your life back in order after a disaster. However, insurance does not cover many things. That?s where federal and state disaster programs may be able to help. You may register with FEMA even before the insurance adjuster visits. Many victims find they are ?underinsured? and disaster assistance may help make up the difference.
I have applied for disaster assistance before, so I don?t need to apply again.
Not True: Even if you have applied for disaster assistance before, you must apply again to be considered for help following the most recent disaster declaration.
I have received disaster assistance before, so I?m not eligible for help now.
Not True: Even if you received assistance before, you can still register and receive assistance.
I don?t want to apply with FEMA for assistance because the money I receive may come out of my Social Security check.
Not True: Assistance funds do not come out of Social Security funds and will not affect your monthly Social Security check.
There may not be enough money for everyone, and my neighbor needs the money more than I do.
Not True: There are enough disaster funds to take care of every eligible applicant.
I have to wait for my insurance adjuster before I apply for disaster assistance.
Not True: You do not have to wait for an agent or adjuster?s inspection before applying for disaster assistance or repairing your home so that it is safe, secure 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 work. If you still have unmet disaster-related needs, you should call FEMA to apply.
I already repaired my home. It?s too late to apply.
Not True: You could qualify for reimbursement of expenses not covered by your insurance. Keep all receipts for disaster-related repairs.
I got help from the Red Cross, so I'm already registered with FEMA.
Not True: Registering with the Red Cross, other voluntary agencies or local and county officials is not the same as applying with FEMA. For federal and state disaster assistance, you must apply by calling the special toll-free number: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585.
I have to be poor to qualify for disaster aid.
Not True: Federal and state disaster assistance programs may be available to those who suffered damage, regardless of income. The programs are not welfare. The kinds of help provided depend on the applicant's circumstances and unmet needs.
I have to be turned down by my bank before I can apply for a disaster loan.
Not True: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which handles low-interest disaster loans for individuals and businesses, has its own criteria for determining each loan applicant?s eligibility. The SBA will decide whether or not you are able to repay a loan. If you are not qualified for a loan, you ...