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There are Many Reasons for a Letter From FEMA

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Release date: 
September 14, 2011
Release Number: 

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Everyone receives a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after applying for disaster assistance. It explains where they are in the process, what to do next or how grant money should be spent.

If a survivor has questions about any letter from FEMA, they should call the FEMA helpline at
800-621-3362 (TTY at 800-462-7585) or visit a disaster recovery center. They can use the same phone number to find the nearest center. They can also locate a center online at or go to

Applicants should not be discouraged if they receive a letter indicating they are ineligible or denied assistance. The letter provides an explanation of what steps need to be taken to change the status of their request for assistance. Applicants can take the letter to a disaster recovery center for help with the appeals process or call the FEMA helpline.

FEMA looks at a number of things to determine if a survivor can receive disaster assistance. But the agency must be able to:

  • Verify an applicant's identity. If they have lost an ID during the storm, disaster recovery staff can make referrals regarding replacement documents.
  • Verify damages. If they believe the inspector didn't see all of their damages, call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or visit a disaster recovery center.
  • Verify home occupancy. Applicants need to provide proof of occupancy such as a utility bill. They can bring the bill to a disaster recovery center, where recovery specialists will help them.

Survivors may also receive a determination letter from FEMA about their eligibility if they missed an appointment with an inspector or failed to return paperwork to the Small Business Administration.

That's why it is so important to give good contact information -- such as a cell phone or work number -- and stay in touch with FEMA.

If a survivor receives a disaster loan application from the SBA, they must complete and return it in order to be referred to other FEMA programs. They are not required to borrow money. But returning the application is a critical part of the recovery assistance process.

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). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

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 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.

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
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