Columbia, Mo. -- To err is human -- especially during the stressful time following a disaster. But making a mistake during the registration process and not correcting it could prove costly on more than one level.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reminds disaster aid applicants they should provide honest, accurate information when they register. Failure to do so could bring unwanted consequences.
"During the stress of a disaster, people may not accurately report their damage or loss," said Federal Coordinating Officer Libby Turner. "Just be honest and candid during registration. Most importantly, if you make a mistake, correct it as soon as possible."
All disaster funds received by survivors must be used for disaster recovery. Auditors use a variety of methods to cross-check data from FEMA, the state, partner agencies and insurance companies. Additionally, FEMA inspectors check applicants" homes to verify claimed damage and loss.
Survivors who use their funds improperly may find their cases referred to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). That office may then refer the cases to the U. S. Department of Justice.
Those wishing to correct an error after submitting a claim can contact FEMA by smartphone through m.FEMA.gov, or by calling FEMA's toll-free Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. Multi-language assistance is available. The FEMA Helpline is available daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., until further notice.
Anyone with knowledge of fraud, waste or abuse involving FEMA contracts, programs or personnel may call the FEMA OIG Fraud Hotline at 1-800-323-8603. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may also send an e-mail to DHSOIGHotline@dhs.gov.
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.
FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA disaster loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY call 1-800-462-7585; or use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) to call 1-800-621-3362.