PURVIS, Miss. – Homeowners, renters and businesses in Forrest, Jefferson Davis, Lamar, Marion and Wayne are eligible for federal disaster assistance. But not everyone affected by the storm’s destruction has registered for FEMA aid.
“There are many misconceptions about getting help,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating OfficerTerry Quarles. “Often people who would qualify for assistance miss out because they don’t understand how the process works.”
Some people believe that since they have already cleaned up and made whatever repairs were needed that they can’t apply for assistance. Some are worried that accepting money from FEMA might have an impact on their Social Security checks or would be taxed as income by the IRS. Others might feel hesitant in accepting FEMA money because “my neighbor needs it more than I do.”
A few disaster survivors think that when they collect their insurance claims, even if the amount they receive falls short of covering repair or replacement costs, they aren’t qualified to get any federal help.
The most common reason that people don’t register for assistance is the idea that having alerted local, county or state officials – or even such organizations as the American Red Cross – about the damages and other losses they suffered that they automatically get registered with FEMA.
But these assumptions are not based on fact.
“It’s perfectly logical to think that once you talk to any emergency official, the process has started,” said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Latham. “But that is not correct. The thing to do is call the FEMA registration line at 800-621-3362 and let them decide if you qualify for help.”
FEMA registration is simple and can be completed several ways:
- Online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov any time day or night.
- By phone or video relay at 800-621-3362 daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time. Help is available in many languages.
- By TTY at 800-462-7585.
- C-Spire Wireless customers can register by calling #362.
- By web-enabled mobile devices at m.fema.gov. Select “Disaster Survivor” then “Apply Online for FEMA Assistance.”
“FEMA is here to support the state of Mississippi’s efforts to come to the aid of area residents,” Quarles said. “We want to make sure everybody who is eligible for assistance gets the help he or she needs and deserves.”
Mississippians have until April 15 to apply for assistance, but FEMA urges anyone affected by the storm to register right away.
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.
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.