Answers to Questions Survivors Ask About Federal Disaster Aid

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Release date: 
September 15, 2011
Release Number: 

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Many Pennsylvania residents and business owners suffered losses following recent floods. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) want those who were affected to know more about grants and low-interest loans for which they may be eligible. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about disaster assistance:

How do I apply?
Residents and business owners are encouraged to apply online at DISASTERASSISTANCE.GOV or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or by web enabled mobile device at Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and who use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly. For those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. Operators will assist you seven days a week between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

How do I know I can apply for Assistance?
Anyone who had flood related losses and who lives or works in an area covered by a disaster declaration may apply for aid.

What kinds of assistance are available?
The Individual Assistance program includes grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance or other aid programs. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) may be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance. Grants do not have to be repaid, but loans from the SBA must be repaid. If you receive an SBA Disaster Loan application in the mail, you must complete and return it in order to be considered for a loan and other types of assistance. For small businesses only, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. For SBA questions, contact the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955.

Am I eligible for Individual Assistance if I already have insurance?
You should apply for assistance even if you have insurance, because many people find they are under-insured or have unmet needs after their insurance settlement. If you have not already contacted your insurance agentto file a claim, please do this as soon as possible. Failure to file a claim with your insurance company may affect your eligibility for assistance. Insurance is your main source for funds to put your life back in order after a disaster. But there are things insurance does not cover; disaster assistance may be able to help.

I have registered. What happens next?
After you apply, FEMA will mail you a copy of your application and a copy of "Help After a Disaster: Applicant's Guide to the Individuals and Households Program," which will answer other questions you may have. This useful publication explains how FEMA's disaster assistance program works; describes how you may be eligible for help from other federal, state and voluntary agencies; and gives you many important tips on how to make all these programs work for you.

Will someone from FEMA inspect my damages?
If your home or its contents are damaged an inspector will contact you within a few days after you apply to schedule a time to meet you at your damaged home. All inspectors carry photo ID that shows they are affiliated with the U.S. government.

How can I check the status of my case?
Go to the same sites you used to register for assistance. If a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is open in your area, you may visit the center to check the status of your application. If you still have questions, you can visit a DRC and speak to a disaster recovery specialist. They can also help anyone who has trouble submitting an application...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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