ATLANTA, Ga. -- Survivors of the recent Kentucky tornadoes who suffered damage should register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, even if they have insurance or aren’t sure they’re eligible for help.
Federal disaster assistance may provide for losses not covered by insurance. Grants may be available to help pay for rental assistance and emergency home repairs. Reimbursement for other serious disaster-related expenses may include medical, dental, funeral or burial costs.
Following are the three basic steps to receiving disaster assistance:
Step One: Registration
Registration is available online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Help is available in many languages. Disaster applicants who use TTY should call 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service should call 800-621-3362.
The toll-free FEMA registration numbers are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.
Survivors also can apply for federal assistance directly through Web-enabled mobile phone devices or smartphones. Registration through the mobile site takes three steps:
- Go to m.fema.gov and click "Apply Online for FEMA Assistance." You will be directed to www.DisasterAssistance.gov;
- Click on "Start Registration"; and
- Fill out the registration form.
- If you have insurance, contact your agent before registering with FEMA.
- Before calling FEMA, make sure you have your Social Security number, current mailing address, the address of the damaged property, a brief description of the damages and any insurance information, including the policy number and the name of your agent, and a phone number where you can be reached.
- Fill out and return your Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loan application if you receive one after registering. Returning the application does not obligate you to accept an SBA loan, but a completed application must be returned in order to be considered for other types of federal disaster assistance.
Step Two: Inspections
After you register, a FEMA-contracted housing inspector will call you to set up an appointment to inspect your property. There is no charge for this service, but it is a necessary step to determine damages.
Make sure your home or mailbox number is easily visible from the road. As part of the inspection process, you must provide proof of ownership or occupancy:
- Homeowners may show a tax bill, deed, mortgage payment receipt or insurance policy with the property's address.
- Renters may show a lease, rent payment receipt, utility bill or other document confirming the home was their primary residence at the time of the disaster.
- Homeowners and renters must also present a valid driver's license or other photo ID.
- Many documents may have been destroyed by the tornadoes. Property owners will eventually need to provide proof of ownership. Those who have lost documents should visit their tax office Property Valuation Administrator to obtain documentation of ownership. This may eliminate long delays in receiving eligible FEMA funds.
Step Three: Keep in Touch
Among the top five reasons applicants fail to receive federal assistance grants is FEMA's inability to contact them after they apply. FEMA tries to reach applicants numerous times before a decision on an application is made. It is vital that you in...