McALLEN, Texas -- Disaster recovery officials urge residents and businesses dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Dolly to be prepared and proactive in their disaster assistance process to help move along the possibility of obtaining state and federal disaster aid:
- Don't wait. Homeowners, renters and business owners in Cameron, Hildago and Willacy counties who suffered disaster-related damage or loss should call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing or speech impaired. The registration line is operating from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Online registration is available at www.fema.gov, to those who have access to a computer. Multilingual operators are available.
- When making the call. The call will take about 20 minutes. Have information on hand including current and pre-disaster (damaged) address; telephone numbers where you can be reached; Social Security number; and insurance coverage including policy number (s)? and agent's name if possible. ??
- Register, even if you are insured. Your insurance coverage may not be adequate and some damage (particularly foundation) may not appear until later. Anyone who suffered any damage or loss should register for assistance.
- Disaster assistance covers a wide range of losses. Structural damage or repair is covered, as is damage or loss of essential personal property, such as a major appliance or medical equipment (wheelchairs, etc).
- Keep critical appointments. A FEMA-contracted inspector will make an appointment to visit your home, usually within three to four days. Make every effort to be at home or you can authorize an agent to be present. Use the Helpline option at the FEMA registration toll-free number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for contact updates, including your agent's
?name, a new phone number or to change appointment times.
- Return all forms promptly. After registering, you may receive a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan application package in the mail. Fill out and return these forms promptly since they are an essential part of the disaster-assistance process. SBA representatives at Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) will assist in completing your SBA home or business disaster loan application as well as answer any of your questions.
- SBA's low-interest disaster loans. Are available to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by disasters.? SBA customer service representatives are available at Disaster Recovery Centers throughout the affected areas to issue loan applications, answer questions about SBA's disaster loan program, explain the application process and help every person complete their applications.
- Stay in touch. Use the Helpline for answers to your questions about federal assistance, the same number you called to register for aid.
- Have realistic expectations. Federal Disaster Assistance is intended to help restore safe, sanitary and functional housing and meet other critical needs so you can begin your long-term recovery.
- Please read all FEMA letters and documents. Applicants deemed eligible for disaster assistance will receive a letter from FEMA providing guidance on their disaster relief grant. It will tell them about ways the money can be spent in their recovery and advises that federal assistance may have to be repaid if it is duplicated by insurance or other assistance received.
- Talk to FEMA if you have questions, especi...