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A Guide To The Recovery Process

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Release date: 
May 11, 2011
Release Number: 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Alabama tornadoes left many survivors wondering how to put their lives back in order – and what to do first.

So here are the steps survivors need to follow to receive assistance:

First, call your insurance agent. Insurance usually provides the largest amount of repair or rebuilding funding for many survivors.

Second, apply for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This starts the process for federal assistance that you may be eligible for, such as temporary housing and home repairs. Renters also need to apply. If they are eligible, money is available for their personal property losses.

Here are the ways to register:

  • By phone, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., local time. Operators are multilingual. For the speech or hearing impaired, the number is TTY 800-462-7585.
  • By visiting a disaster recovery center.
  • By smartphone or tablet, go to
  • By computer, go online to

 When you register with FEMA, you start the disaster assistance process. Additional information is available at any of the disaster recovery centers operating in Alabama counties. At the centers you can ask recovery specialists questions about your application or learn about available local, state and federal programs. Survivors can find the closest center by using the online disaster recovery center locator at

You may also receive a disaster loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Homeowners and renters must complete and return it to be referred to other FEMA programs. Applicants are not required to accept the SBA loan.

FEMA assistance is limited to essential needs and can't duplicate funds received from other sources. By registering, you will have access to the SBA and may be able to receive a low-interest disaster loan to cover residential or business losses.

Survivors may apply to the SBA before insurance claims are settled. For more information on the SBA loan program, visit a disaster recovery center or call the SBA customer service number at 800-659-2955.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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