Apply For Disaster Assistance; Don't Let Myths And Misunderstandings

Main Content
Release date: 
February 17, 2009
Release Number: 
1817-025

OLYMPIA, Wash. ?-- Officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urge residents in declared counties affected by the January 6-16, 2009 severe winter storm, landslides, mudslides, and flooding, to apply for disaster assistance. Residents should not let misunderstandings and misconceptions prevent them from applying for assistance to help in their recovery. They should call the toll free teleregistration number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY 1-800-462-7585) to get accurate information.

"People affected by disasters deserve help to recover. The last thing they need is misinformation preventing them from doing so," said Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn. "We strongly urge people to call FEMA to get correct information and to apply."

FEMA, the Washington Emergency Management Division (WEMD), and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offer a variety of programs to help disaster victims. The following are commonly asked questions and responses with accurate information about federal and state disaster programs and services:

  • I received help from a previous disaster. Am I eligible for help for this one? Possibly. Every disaster is considered separately. When you call to register, a specialist will evaluate your application for the current disaster.
  • I don't own a business. Why should I apply for a loan from the SBA? You should apply because the SBA Disaster Loan program is a major source of recovery funds for individuals and families, as well as for businesses.
  • I have insurance. Am I still eligible for help? Possibly. FEMA will not duplicate insurance benefits, but you may be eligible for help with losses not covered or with damages in excess of your coverage ("under-insured"). That's why it's important to register for assistance even while you are working with your insurance company to assess your insurance coverage.
  • I'm waiting for my insurance adjuster. Can I still apply for disaster assistance? Yes. Don't wait for an adjuster before applying for aid or making necessary repairs to make your house livable. Find out what your policy covers and be sure to keep papers and receipts for all work.
  • I've already repaired my home. Can I still apply for assistance? Yes. You might qualify for reimbursement of expenses not covered by insurance. Be sure to keep your receipts.
  • I got help from the Red Cross. Can I still get help from FEMA or the state? Yes. FEMA and WEMD 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 gave information to my emergency manager (or the Red Cross). Do I still need to register with FEMA? Yes. ?To be eligible for federal and state disaster assistance, you must first apply by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY 1-800-462-7585). You may also apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov. ?
  • I make too much money to qualify for disaster aid. Can I still apply? Yes. Federal and state disaster assistance programs are available to all who suffered damages and most are not dependent on income.
  • Do I have to be turned down by my bank before I can apply for a disaster loan? No. SBA, which handles low-interest disaster loans, has its own criteria for determining each loan applicant's eligibility. The SBA will decide whether or not you are able to repay a loan. If you are not qualified for a loan, you may be eligible for a grant from FEMA, but it is necessary to go through the S...
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Back to Top