Frequently Asked Questions About Disaster Assistance

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Release date: 
July 24, 2009
Release Number: 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- As a result of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding
May 8 - 16, President Obama signed a disaster declaration for the state of Missouri. The declaration makes federal disaster assistance available to Missourians, but accessing such assistance can be hindered by misinformation. Below are some answers that may help clarify common misconceptions about disaster assistance available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

Is registering with FEMA for disaster assistance complicated?

No. Registering is free, can be done on the Internet or by phone and takes about 20 minutes. Registrations can be completed online at or by calling FEMA at
1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 800-462-7585. Representatives are available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, seven days a week until further notice. Multilingual operators are available.

Do I have to register with FEMA if I'm already registered with agencies such as the state, American Red Cross (ARC) or local county emergency manager?

Yes. Registering with ARC or other organizations and agencies is different than registering for FEMA assistance. In order to be considered for assistance you must register with FEMA directly.

If I have insurance, can I still apply for FEMA assistance to help pay for losses my insurance doesn't cover?

Yes. While insurance is your main source of funding to replace your disaster losses, there may be additional costs that insurance does not cover. Additionally, a low-interest disaster loan may be available to cover expenses while an insurance claim is processed.

Do I have to wait for an insurance adjustor or inspector to visit before I can clean up?

No. 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.

Aren't SBA loans only available for businesses?

No. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, non profit organizations for repair or replacement costs for disaster-related damages not fully covered by insurance or other compensation. After a presidential declaration, the SBA is the primary source of federal financial assistance. The SBA has representatives in all Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) and Disaster Loan Outreach Centers (DLOC).

Details on the locations of DRCs and DLOCs and the loan application process can be obtained by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or by emailing our customer service center at

Survivors may also apply for disaster loans from SBA's secure Web site at

I'm not interested in getting a loan; I only want grants. Do I still need to fill out an SBA loan form?

Yes. Completing and submitting an SBA loan application is not required to qualify for temporary housing and emergency home repair grants from FEMA. However, if an applicant receives the loan application in the mail, FEMA encourages them to return it so they can be considered for all forms of assistance they may be eligible for. If you do not receive an SBA loan application in your FEMA application packet, or you do not qualify for a loan, you may be considered for other forms of assistance.

Do I have to visit a Disaster Recovery Center to apply for assistance?

No. Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are provided for those who may want to speak in person with a disaster recovery specialist. DRC se...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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