CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nearly 600 survivors of the severe storms and tornadoes that occurred Feb. 29 – March 2 have registered with FEMA for disaster assistance.
To date, more than $461,000 in grants has been approved to help survivors pay for temporary housing and other needs as a result of damage they incurred. Many more survivors in the 10 disaster-designated counties may be eligible for benefits but may not be registering with FEMA in larger numbers for a variety of reasons:
Unfamiliar with the FEMA registration process – it’s as easy as a phone call or click.
- People with storm losses can register simply by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), which is video relay service accessible. Applicants who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can use TTY 800-462-7585. Help is available in most languages and phone lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week until further notice. Online registration is available at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or through a smartphone or tablet at m.fema.gov.
Don’t know the full scope of available assistance.
- FEMA assistance can cover rental costs, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses.
- FEMA can refer survivors who do not need FEMA assistance, or who have additional needs, to partner agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. FEMA also can refer survivors to groups and agencies who can help them with disaster unemployment assistance, crisis counseling and legal aid.
- SBA low-interest disaster loans are available for homeowners, renters and businesses at affordable terms. Survivors offered an SBA low-interest loan are under no obligation to accept it. However, completing and returning the application may open the door to other forms of assistance such as additional FEMA grants.
- Survivors can obtain more information from the SBA website at www.sba.gov and learn how to apply on line or download an SBA application. Applicants with questions specific to SBA can also call the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard of hearing) for assistance.
Think insurance will cover damages or are waiting for an insurance settlement.
- Homeowners and renters with insurance should fill out a FEMA application and SBA loan application while they are waiting for their insurance decision. It saves time.
- If insurance doesn’t cover all of their disaster-related expenses, FEMA and/or SBA assistance may be available to fill the gap.
Busy cleaning up debris, repairing homes; haven’t taken the time to register.
- Registering by phone or online can take as little as 15 to 30 minutes.
Think FEMA assistance could count against benefits received from other federal programs such as Social Security or Medicare.
- FEMA grants for housing and other needs assistance are NOT counted as income and DO NOT affect other benefits or eligibility for programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, welfare assistance, SNAP or Aid to Families with Dependent Children. FEMA grant money does not have to be repaid as long as it is properly spent for your disaster recovery.
Think they are ineligible for FEMA assistance due to income levels or to...