MOORHEAD, Minn. -- If you received a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) saying that you are ineligible for disaster assistance, don't give up.
"A negative determination letter does not necessarily mean that an applicant is not eligible for assistance," said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael H. Smith. "It may mean that FEMA does not have all the information needed to make a positive determination."
Smith directs the federal portion of the disaster response and recovery efforts in Minnesota.
There are a number of reasons why applicants may receive negative determination letters and yet may still be eligible for assistance. These include the need to:
- Provide information to prove occupancy or ownership of the damaged property.
- Provide proof of identity.
- Provide documentation to prove disaster damage.
- Complete and return the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan application.
Applicants with insurance should contact their insurance company and ask for a settlement letter detailing exactly what is covered under their claim. They should fax or mail copies of insurance settlement information to FEMA, Individuals and Households Program, National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055. The fax number is 1-800-827-8112.
Individuals have up to 12 months from the date they registered with FEMA to submit insurance information for review. FEMA cannot provide money to individuals or households for losses covered by insurance.
FEMA reminds applicants to return the completed SBA loan application. Filling out the loan application is a necessary step if applicants are to be considered for some other forms of disaster assistance.
"The key to being considered for federal assistance is for applicants to complete all the necessary paperwork and keep information up-to-date," said Kris Eide of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "FEMA relies on that information to process each claim."
Eide is the state coordinating officer for response to and recovery from the flooding that began
March 16 and continuing.
Applicants who wish to appeal a decision can do so in writing within 30 days from the date of the decision or date of the determination letter. Guidelines for appeals can be found in Help After a Disaster, Applicant's Guide to the Individuals and Household Program, which is sent to everyone who registers with FEMA.
Residents of Clay, Norman, Traverse and Wilkin counties who have already registered for disaster assistance and need to update their application information or obtain more information can access the FEMA Web site, www.fema.gov, or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 800-462-7585. Operators are available 6 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday.
Anyone in the above counties who has suffered damage from the storms and flooding March 16 and continuing should apply with FEMA for assistance whether they have settled an insurance claim or not. To apply, call the above telephone or TTY numbers. Multilingual operators are available to assist individuals with limited English proficiency.
Residents also can get information or apply online 24 hours a day, seven days a week at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
The deadline for applications is June 9.
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