Misunderstandings about Disaster Assistance

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Release date: 
May 30, 2008
Release Number: 
1753-015

CLINTON, Miss. -- As many residents of Bolivar, Warren, Washington and Wilkinson Counties register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial disaster assistance in recovering from their recent severe storm and flooding losses, others may have concerns that will prevent them from applying.

Here are responses to some of the more common concerns:

  • I have insurance, so no other help is available.? False: FEMA will not duplicate insurance benefits, but you may be eligible for help with losses not covered or damage in excess of your coverage ("under-insured") if within FEMA's program limits.
  • I don't have to wait for my insurance adjuster before I apply for disaster assistance.?? ?True: Don't wait for an adjuster before applying for aid or starting repairs to make your house livable. However, you should save receipts for any work done and take photographs of your damage.
  • I already repaired my home, I don't need to apply.? False: You might get reimbursed for expenses not covered by insurance or face unexpected expenses.
  • I got help from the Red Cross, so I can't get help from FEMA or the state.? False: FEMA and the states coordinate a number of programs to help disaster victims. These programs are different from the emergency food, clothing and shelter initially provided by the Red Cross and other voluntary agencies.
  • I got help from the Red Cross, so I'm already registered with FEMA.? False: Registration with the Red Cross is not the same as registration with FEMA. For federal and state disaster assistance, you must apply by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or the TTY number, 1-800-462-7585.
  • I don't have to be poor to qualify for disaster aid.? True: Federal and state disaster assistance is available to those who suffered damage regardless of income. The programs are based on disaster-related needs and the assistance is income-tax free.
  • I have to be turned down by my bank before I can apply for a disaster loan. False: If you lived in a declared county you are eligible to apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. If SBA cannot approve your loan application you may be referred to other agencies for assistance, but that can't happen if you don't return your completed SBA application.
  • I must own a business to apply for a loan from the SBA.? False: The SBA low-interest loan is the primary source of long-term recovery assistance for homeowners, renters and business owners.  SBA covers uninsured or underinsured losses for real estate as well as personal property.
  • I rent an apartment. I can't get help.? False: There are several types of assistance available to renters. One type of grant helps renters with temporary housing if they have to move because of disaster damage or loss. Renters also may qualify for an SBA low-interest disaster loan.
  • I'm self-employed and out of work; I can't qualify for disaster unemployment benefits.? False: Disaster Unemployment Assistance, funded by FEMA and administered by the state, provides benefits for workers who would not normally qualify for unemployment compensation, including those who are self-employed.
  • If I accept disaster assistance a lien can be placed on my home. Fal...
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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