Madison, Wis. -- Don't let misunderstandings cause the loss of needed disaster assistance, state and federal emergency management officials urge Wisconsin residents.?
Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recovery officials are concerned that unreliable word-of-mouth information may deprive eligible individuals and households of essential aid.
"The last thing you need in a disaster is misinformation," said WEM Administrator Johnnie Smith. "And the best way to avoid that problem is to call and ask for yourself just what kind of assistance is available to you."
Wisconsin residents living in a disaster-declared county who suffered losses from recent severe storms and flooding can apply for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). People with speech or hearing impairments can call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Both lines are open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. You also can register anytime on line at www.fema.gov.
FEMA and WEM officials warn of the following common misconceptions:
- I must meet a minimum threshold of damage before I can register for assistance with FEMA.
Not True: There is no minimum requirement for registering for federal and state disaster assistance. FEMA, by law cannot duplicate other benefits, but you may have losses, for example, not covered by insurance, that could be reimbursed by FEMA. Federal grants also may be available for expenses such as disaster-related moving and storage costs; replacement of storm-damaged household items; essential transportation and disaster-related medical and dental expenses.
- I have to return home before I can apply for disaster assistance.
Not True: You can apply from wherever you are at this time, whether you are staying with friends or family or living temporarily in a rental house or apartment. FEMA cannot help you unless you register.?
- I have already repaired my home. So I don't need to apply.?
Not True: Save receipts and document your damage. You might qualify for reimbursement of expenses not covered by insurance.
- I have to know exactly what the damage is before I can apply for or get aid, but I can't get to my home to see.
Not True: If you evacuated before the disaster and know that your home is in a disaster area, report there was damage. You do not need to know the details. FEMA inspectors can determine if the damage was a result of the storm. Do not say damages are "unknown."
- For an inspection to take place, I have to be present when the inspector comes.
Not True:? If you are unable to return home to meet an inspector, you can designate an "Authorized Agent," such as a trusted neighbor or relative, who can be present during the inspection. After you register, a FEMA inspector will contact you to schedule an appointment.
- I must own a business to apply for a disaster loan from the SBA.?
Not True: The SBA low-interest disaster loan is the primary source of federal assistance for long-term recovery for homeowners, renters and business owners. SBA covers uninsured or underinsured losses for homeowner real estate damages, as well as personal property damages for homeowners and renters.
Residents of the following 30 Wisconsin counties may be eligible for disaster assistance to individuals: Adams, Calumet, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, ...