ATLANTA, Ga. -- Common misunderstandings about disaster assistance may deprive individuals of vital help from state and local agencies and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"The last thing you need in a disaster is misinformation," said State Coordinating Officer Charley English. "The best way to avoid that problem is to register with FEMA and get the facts."
Registering with FEMA is an important first step in recovery.
Georgia residents living in a declared county who suffered damage to their homes or were otherwise affected by the April storms and tornadoes may be eligible for assistance. Declared counties are: Bartow, Catoosa, Cherokee, Coweta, Dade, Greene, Habersham, Harris, Heard, Floyd, Gordon, Lamar, Lumpkin, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Pickens, Polk, Rabun, Spalding, Troup, Upson, Walker and White. Residents should not let misunderstandings keep them from registering for assistance.
Some of the most common misunderstandings heard in past disasters are:
- I have insurance, so there is no other help available. Not true: FEMA will not duplicate insurance benefits, but applicants may be eligible for help with losses not covered or damage in excess of their insurance coverage (underinsured). That's why it is important to register for assistance even while working with your insurance company to assess your insurance coverage.
- I have to wait for my insurance adjuster before I register for disaster assistance. Not true: Don't wait for an adjuster before registering for aid or making repairs needed to make your house livable. You should, however, find out what your policy covers and be sure to keep papers and receipts for any work.
- I already repaired my home. I don't need to register. Not true: You may qualify for reimbursement of expenses not covered by insurance.
- I have to be poor to qualify for disaster aid. Not true: The types of assistance provided depend on each applicant's circumstances. Federal and state disaster assistance programs may be available to those who suffered damage, regardless of income. The programs are not "welfare."
- I must own a business to register for a loan from the SBA. Not true: SBA low-interest loans are the primary source of federal assistance for long-term recovery for homeowners, renters and business owners. SBA covers uninsured or underinsured losses for real estate damage as well as personal property damage.
- I rent an apartment. I can't get help. Not true: Renters may qualify for help with temporary housing needs if they have to move because of disaster-caused damage and for other needs assistance for some types of personal property losses. They may also qualify for FEMA assistance or low-interest SBA loans for losses that are not covered by insurance or other disaster assistance programs.
To Register For Assistance
Anyone who experienced damage as a result of the storms is urged to register for assistance. Call FEMA’s toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY/TDD 1-800-462-7585 for the speech and hearing impaired between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week. Multi-lingual operators are available to answer calls during this time. Residents may also register online anytime at www.disasterassistance.gov or on mobile phones at m.fema.gov.
"To get the most complete and accurate information, disaster survivors need to take the first step to recovery by registering with FEMA,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and fi...