MERRILLVILLE, Ind. -- Flood victims in Lake County who have been turned down initially for disaster assistance can appeal the decision by coming to one of the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs), officials say.
"The letter may not be the final word," said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Coordinating Officer Donald Keldsen. "The process allows for an appeal, and a brief visit with a DRC representative might resolve the issue to your advantage, or give you valuable guidance. Many times the reason for the lack of authorization can be rectified in person with additional information."
"Bring as much documentation as you can," he added. This includes estimates of damage and loss, photos, records and receipts, including those for repair supplies, labor and rent payments.
"We want to ensure every family has the opportunity for every dollar of assistance for which they are eligible," said Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) Executive Director J. Eric Dietz. "A successful appeal can mean thousands of dollars in assistance."
While the conversation will be documented, appeals must be in writing. Applicants should retain a copy of the appeal letter and documentation for their records.
The information should explain why the decision should be reconsidered. The applicant or someone who represents the applicant should sign the letter. Applicants should include their application number on each page of their letter and on their documentation.
If the person writing the letter is not a member of the household, a signed statement from the applicant should be included affirming that the person may act on behalf of the person or family.
To check the status of appeals, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). TTY is available for persons who are hearing or speech impaired at 1-800-462-7585. Information on appeals also is available on the web at www.fema.gov and click on "Apply for Assistance."
DRC locations include Hammond Civic Center, Blue Room, 5825 S. Sohl Ave., Hammond, Ind., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. through Dec. 21; and the Gary DRC, at 839 Broadway, Gary, Ind., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. through Dec. 21.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.