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Disaster Survivors Urged To Carefully Read Letters from FEMA

Release date: 
March 27, 2012
Release Number: 

CHARLESTON, W.V. -- West Virginia residents in Lincoln, Logan, Marion and Wayne counties who registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency will receive a letter after they apply for disaster assistance. The letter explains the current status of an individual's disaster assistance application.

"We want to remind disaster survivors to carefully read the entire letter, because FEMA may need additional information," said Charleston-based FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Deanne Criswell. Criswell is in charge of FEMA's response to the flooding and tornadoes between February 29 through March 5 and the flooding beginning March 15.

"It is important to know that the initial decision and amount of assistance, whatever it might be, could change when the applicant's insurance or other government assistance is figured in," Criswell said.

Sometimes people do not qualify for financial help right away because further documentation has to be submitted to FEMA. Some of the many reasons for a denial are:

  • Records have not been provided to show the damaged property was the applicant's primary residence at the time of the disaster;
  • The applicant has not received his or her insurance settlement;
  • Information may be needed such as a record of income or the correct address of the damaged property;
  • Proof of home ownership or rental documentation might be missing;
  • The Small Business Administration disaster loan application has not been returned; or
  • Essential documents are not signed.

"Just because the letter says an applicant isn't eligible for disaster assistance, this does not necessarily mean FEMA's decision is final," said Criswell. "Applicants can ask FEMA to reconsider the decision if they disagree with what the letter says."

If an applicant does not agree with FEMA's decision, an appeal process is available. Appeals may relate to eligibility, the amount or type of help provided, a late application, a request to return money or continuing help. The appeal must be sent to FEMA and postmarked within 60 days of the date the decision letter is received. To appeal, applicants must follow these steps:

  1. Explain in writing why you think the decision about the amount or type of assistance is not correct.
    1. When submitting the letter, include your full name, date and place of birth, and current address.
    2. You must sign the letter, and it must be notarized and include a copy of a state-issued identification card. Failing that, the letter must contain the following statement: "I hereby declare under the penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct."

  2. Date the appeal letter and include your FEMA application number and the disaster number (located at the top of the decision letter).

  3. Mail the letter to:

    National Processing Service Center
    P. O. Box 10055
    Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

  4. Or fax the letter to:

    Attention: FEMA

For questions about the letter, the appeal process or to register for disaster assistance, applicants should call 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Operators are on duty seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.

Register with FEMA online at By smartphone, tablet or other PDA, log onto  FEMA's App for Android phones can be downloaded at

Applicants are urged to visit any Disaster Recovery Center after they go through the entire registration process. There they can get guidance on ...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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