LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Tornado survivors in Franklin and Johnson counties who have received notice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that they are ineligible for disaster assistance may be able to turn that "no" to a "yes."
"A letter that says you are ineligible for assistance is the beginning, not the end, of a conversation between you and FEMA," said State Coordinating Officer David Maxwell of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. "By appealing the decision, you're asking FEMA to review your case again."
Survivors of the May 24-26 storms and tornadoes in Franklin and Johnson counties can call FEMA's Helpline if they have questions about the appeal process or any other matter. The number is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585.The line is open from 6 a.m. to midnight daily, seven days a week, and multilingual operators are available.
"Applicants who receive an ineligibility letter can, and should, appeal the decision if they find circumstances have changed from the time they registered," said Federal Coordinating Officer Nancy M. Casper of FEMA. "Some Arkansans may have discovered additional damage to their property, or find they need housing help after all."
FEMA reviews all appeals and usually makes a decision within 30 days of receiving a request, Casper said.
Submitting repair estimates, receipts, statements or invoices helps applicants lodge an effective appeal. This new data could reverse an ineligibility determination.
- The appeal letter must be mailed and postmarked, or received by fax, within 60 days of the date on the decision letter. Applicants should retain a copy of the appeal letter as a record.
- The letter should include a personal phone number as well as a back-up phone number where the applicant can be reached, in addition to a correct mailing address.
- Information on how and where to file an appeal is included with ineligibility letters and in the "Help After a Disaster" booklet that is included with registration packets.
Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repair and other serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance or other sources.
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.