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FEMA Assistance: Spend It Wisely

Release date: 
October 5, 2011
Release Number: 

RALEIGH, N.C. -- More than $20 million in federal disaster relief already is in the hands of North Carolina survivors rebuilding after Hurricane Irene - and more money is on the way. So, now is a good time to remind those getting these much-needed payments to spend wisely.

Most disaster grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are deposited electronically, followed by a letter explaining how the money should be spent.

Hurricane survivors should only use these grants to meet specific disaster-related needs.

Housing Assistance grants are intended for basic housing repairs, including repairs to a septic system or private well. Housing Assistance grants may also be used for short-term rent payments or reimbursement of hotel/motel expenses.

Other Needs Assistance grants are intended to help replace essential personal property and meet disaster-related medical, dental and funeral expenses. The money may also be used to repair or replace a car damaged by the disaster and to replace work-related tools.

FEMA grants shouldn’t be used for luxury goods such as flat-screen televisions, video games or other entertainment electronics. Grants may be audited, so survivors should keep receipts for three years to document disaster-related expenses. If grant money is not used as outlined in the letter, a recipient may have to pay it back and may lose eligibility for any further help.

The first step toward obtaining recovery assistance is to register with FEMA:

  • By phone, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time. Assistance is available in many languages. Those who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have a speech disability may use TTY 800-462-7585.
  • By computer, go online to
  • By smartphone or tablet, use

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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