SAN JUAN, PR -- Any survivor of Hurricane Irene which has applied for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and has not heard from the Agency should call the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (TTY at 800-462-7585). Survivors should expect a letter from FEMA and the Government of Puerto Rico explaining where they are in the process, what to do next or if they get money granted, and how it must be spent.
Survivors 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. Also, survivors can take the letter to a disaster recovery center for help with the appeals process.
To determine if a survivor can receive disaster assistance, FEMA must be able to:
- Verify an applicant's identity. The use of the survivor name as it appears on his/her social security card eases the identification process. If the identification items were lost during the hurricane, disaster recovery staff can make referrals regarding replacement documents.
- Verify damages. Pre existent conditions in the household are not eligible for disaster assistance. If a survivor believes the inspector didn't see all of the damages, call the FEMA helpline or visit a disaster recovery center.
- Verify home occupancy. Applicants need to provide proof of occupancy such as a utility bill.
If a survivor receives a disaster loan application from the Small Business Administration, it should be submitted in order to be referred to other FEMA programs. Survivors are not required to borrow money, but returning the application is a critical part of the recovery assistance process
Survivors should call to update their registration information, including changes in address or phone number. This information helps FEMA to stay in touch with applicants.
On August 27, 2011, President Obama granted a federal disaster declaration making individuals and families affected by Hurricane Irene in Aguas Buenas, Arroyo, Caguas, Canóvanas, Carolina, Cayey, Cidra, Coamo, Comerío, Fajardo, Gurabo, Humacao, Jayuya, Juncos, Las Piedras, Loíza, Luquillo, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Ponce, Río Grande, San Juan, San Lorenzo, Trujillo Alto, Vega Baja, Vieques and Villalba eligible to apply for disaster assistance.
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.