NEPTUNE, N.J. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants all survivors of Hurricane Irene to receive the maximum assistance for which they are eligible.
But, officials said, there are some things FEMA can't do, such as duplicate insurance payments or fill in the blanks on missing information.
"Putting your life back together after a disaster is difficult," said William L. Vogel, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. "While the process of securing assistance from FEMA is intended to be simple, it's easy to understand how sometimes crucial information is overlooked or missed."
FEMA encourages everyone who had storm damage in New Jersey's federally declared disaster area to register for assistance and then keep open the lines of communication.
"It's a two-way street," said Vogel. "FEMA can't offer assistance to survivors who - for whatever reason - have not provided all the necessary information."
After registering by calling 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA), survivors will receive notification by mail within 10 days on whether they qualify for federal disaster assistance.
- If eligible, the letter explains how much the grant will be, and for how it is intended to be used.
- If ineligible - or if the grant amount reads "0" - you may still qualify. The denial may just mean the application is missing information or that you missed an appointment with an inspector.
FEMA looks at a number of things to determine if a survivor can receive disaster assistance. The agency must be able to:
- Verify an applicant's identity.
- Verify damages. If you believe the inspector didn't see all of your damages, call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.
- Verify home occupancy. Applicants need to provide proof of occupancy such as a utility bill.
- Collect insurance information.
Call the Helpline to understand why you were denied assistance or go online to www.disasterassistance.gov or m.fema.gov. Changing your eligibility may be as simple as supplying missing paperwork or providing additional information.
"FEMA personnel are here to help," said Vogel. "Keep in touch. Use the Helpline. You'll get answers to your questions and help with understanding the assistance process, and ways to move your personal recovery forward."
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.