PIERRE, S.D. -- Here are some tips from officials to assure quick delivery of state and federal disaster assistance to residents of South Dakota's declared counties who suffered property losses in the flooding from March 11 through July 22.
- The first step to receive federal disaster assistance is to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Even if people have already told FEMA or emergency managers about their damage, they now need to register with FEMA themselves and get a registration number.
- They can register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) toll free. The TDD number for those with speech and hearing impairments is 1-800-462-7585. The toll-free lines are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT seven days a week until further notice.
- They can also register online at www.disasterassistance.gov, or through a web-enabled mobile device or Smartphone by going to m.fema.gov and following the link for federal assistance and other recovery help.
- Those affected are encouraged to register if they had any disaster-related losses, whether as a renter or homeowner. They may need help with unexpected expenses even if their property was insured.
- A FEMA housing inspector will contact those who register for an appointment to inspect their property. The residents then need to make arrangements to meet the inspector and allow sufficient time to answer questions. Assistance may be delayed if they are not home.
- Residents should make sure their address number is clearly displayed for inspectors and that FEMA always has a reliable address or phone number to contact them.
- Renters forced from their homes by disaster damage may apply for rental assistance to relocate temporarily while repairs are made. Reimbursement may be available for hotel bills if their home was uninhabitable due to damage.
- Residents should document losses by saving receipts from bills they have paid to repair their property or replace essential possessions. They should take photographs and videotape if possible.
- They can check the status of their application for assistance or make changes to it by contacting FEMA at the number or Web sites above.
Programs available to eligible applicants may include:
- Disaster Housing Assistance, administered by FEMA, for individuals and families whose homes were destroyed or made unlivable as a result of the flooding. The program provides funding for temporary accommodations, or financial assistance for minimal home repairs to make a property livable.
- Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration for homeowners, renters or business owners for the repair, replacement or rebuilding of disaster-damaged property that the FEMA Individual Assistance grants or insurance do not cover.
- Grants through the Other Needs Assistance program for those who have serious immediate needs resulting from the disaster that cannot be met by other sources.
FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate those affected for their entire loss. For those who have insurance, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered under the insurance policy. Residents should contact their insurance agent first, then if they have unmet needs they should call FEMA to apply.
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.