ATLANTA – Disaster survivors applying for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have several ways to track their progress and get questions answered.
“Georgia residents who must rebuild after the severe storms and tornadoes in April have a big challenge ahead of them,” said FEMA’s Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer. “We don’t want the disaster assistance process to become one of those challenges.”
The disaster assistance process uses step-by-step methods intended to simplify registering and speed aid to those in need. FEMA experts work one-on-one with survivors so that important information flows back and forth in person, by phone, over the Internet, and through U.S mail.
Information is available from mobile FEMA sources, such as web-enabled smart phones, Twitter alerts and e-mail; however, the agency does not use these formats to communicate personal information to survivors. For example, FEMA would not send a text message to a cell phone to announce a grant receipt or request additional information.
Survivors can get in touch and stay in touch with FEMA:
Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are one-stop shops that provide individual assistance to survivors who have registered with FEMA. Representatives from state, federal and voluntary agencies, including the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), are available at Georgia DRCs to answer questions and provide recovery information.
Currently DCRs have been established in 13 Georgia counties. Hours and locations are publicized in local media or online using the DRC Locator, www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers.
FEMA maintains a toll-free phone line to help survivors register for disaster assistance and follow up on their status. Multilingual operators are available. The number is 800-621-FEMA (3362) or
800-462-7585 (TTY) for those with hearing or speech functional needs. Once registered, survivors can access the Helpline at the same number by following the voice prompts.
Survivors can register for assistance 24/7 at www.disasterassistance.gov. A series of on-screen prompts navigates users through the registration process. Those registering will need basic contact and insurance information. The process should take less than 20 minutes. Once registered, applicants can return to the site periodically, as needed, to check the status of a claim.
The website also offers a variety of resources for rebuilding after a disaster and provides action-oriented advice for lessening the effects of future disasters.
You can also access disaster information and recovery resources directly from your smartphone at FEMA’s new mobile website at http://m.fema.gov/.
Survivors who receive federal disaster assistance are notified by mail of their eligibility status and the intended use of any grant they may receive. FEMA also uses the U.S. Postal Service to notify survivors if they are not eligible for assistance, the reasons they are not eligible and how to appeal a FEMA decision.
Survivors who receive mail from either FEMA or the U.S. Small Business Administration are encouraged to open it immediately, respond promptly, and/or call the phone numbers provided to get answers to questions.
“Providing accurate, timely and complete information is crucial to recovery,” said Szczech, “regardless of the way you decide to communicate ...