FEMA Assistance: Ten Misconceptions That Can Hinder Disaster Aid

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Release date: 
August 23, 2008
Release Number: 
1780-025

McALLEN, Texas -- Don't let half-truths and rumors cause you to miss out on the federal disaster assistance made available for those devastated by Hurricane Dolly. Federal and state officials agree the last thing people need after suffering losses is misinformation. The following adds clarification for some common misconceptions about disaster assistance:

  • I registered for help through the American Red Cross, my local officials and Texas 2-1-1. I've been told that means I've registered with FEMA too.
    Not True.
    FEMA coordinates a number of federal programs to help individuals, however, they are different from the emergency food, clothing and sheltering initially provided by the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other voluntary agencies. Registration with Texas 2-1-1, the American Red Cross or other voluntary agencies is not the same as applying with FEMA. Texas 2-1-1 abbreviated dialing code serves as a referral and informational line to link Texans to health and human service-related needs. If dialing 2-1-1 does not work, use the alternate Texas 2-1-1-number of 1-877-541-7905.

  • I have heard that registering with FEMA for disaster assistance is complicated.
    Not True. Registration takes about 20 minutes, either by phone or on the Internet. Applicants should register by calling Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)? toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech or hearing impairment may call? TTY 800-462-7585 and apply. English, Spanish and other multilingual operators are available to speak to applicants. The toll-free telephone numbers are in operation from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, until further notice. Applicants who have access to a computer can register online at www.fema.gov, or at one of the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties.

  • Because I have insurance, I can't apply for FEMA assistance to help pay for losses my insurance doesn't cover.
    Not True.
    While insurance is your main source of funding to put your life back in order, there are many things that insurance does not cover. That is where federal disaster programs may be able to help. Some individuals may find that they are ?underinsured? and disaster assistance may be able to help fill the gap.

  • I have to wait for an insurance adjustor or inspector to visit before I can clean up.
    Not True.
    You should begin cleaning your home or business as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Remember to take photos and keep records of your clean-up efforts and expenses.

  • I can't apply for a loan from the SBA because they are only for businesses.
    Not True.
    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest loans to cover the uncompensated losses for personal contents up to $40,000 for both homeowners and renters and up to $200,000 for homeowners for physical damage to their primary residence. The SBA also provides low-interest loans up to $2 million for uncompensated physical losses suffered by businesses of any size and private, non-profit organizations. Additionally, working capital loans are available for economic injuries sustained by small businesses in the declared counties and the adjoining counties. The combination of the two business loans cannot exceed $2 million.?

  • I don't want a loan; so I don't need to fill out a SBA loan form.
    Not True.
    FEMA's Other Needs Assistance program is designed to help meet serious, disaster-related needs. If you do not qualify for a loan, you may be considered for other forms of assistance. How...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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