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Virginia Hurricane Matthew


Incident Period: Oct 7, 2016 - Oct 15, 2016

Declaration Date: Nov 2, 2016

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Local News & Media

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Rumor Control

RUMOR: Renters can’t buy flood insurance

FACT: Renters can buy flood insurance and are encouraged to do so in order to cover their contents. Renters can get limited help from FEMA to replace “essential” items, like clothes, school supplies, vehicles and some household items. And, FEMA can help renters find a new place to live and help with utility deposits and fees if they have to move.

RUMOR: The only insurance company underwriting new renter flood insurance is Allstate. State Farm stopped selling new policies in 2009. An agreement between the City Line Apartments and City of Newport News requires that the apartment complex recommends flood insurance to all tenants.

FACT: There are multiple flood insurance agents that provide flood insurance contents coverage for renters, homeowners and business owners in the Hampton Roads area.  Visit www.floodsmart.gov to locate flood insurance agents near you.  Simply click the Find an Agent button, type in your address and get a listing of flood insurance agents who service your area.

RUMOR: It takes a long time for disaster aid to reach survivors.

FACT: FEMA already has Individual Assistance specialists on the ground in Virginia and some survivors already have received grants. In just the first week more than $3.1 million had been approved for distribution to survivors. Specialists will continue to process assistance for eligible survivors who have registered with FEMA as applications are received. You have up to 12 months from the date you registered with FEMA to submit your insurance information for review. By law, FEMA cannot provide money to individuals or households for losses that are covered by insurance.

RUMOR: Federal assistance is available only to U.S. citizens.

FACT: Assistance may be available for eligible Virginia disaster survivors who suffered damages from Hurricane Mathew including U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals and Qualified Aliens.

An undocumented parent or guardian may apply for monetary aid on behalf of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or Qualified Alien. Although the adult will be expected to sign a Declaration and Release (FEMA Form 009-0-3) in the child’s name, no information will be gathered on the person signing for the child.

When registering for disaster assistance, FEMA requires applicants to certify whether they are U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or Qualified Aliens. For more information on who is included in the status of a qualified alien please click here (Teresa add a link to the NR here)

RUMOR: It is hard to register for FEMA disaster assistance.

FACT: You call 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; or online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. The process only takes 20 to 30 minutes. Be sure to have your social security number, address of the damaged home or apartment, description of the damage, information about insurance coverage, telephone number, mailing address, and bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds.  

RUMOR: Survivors cannot register for FEMA assistance if they have insurance.

FACT: Survivors should always register with FEMA and they may be eligible for FEMA disaster aid if they have insurance coverage that is insufficient to make essential home repairs, provide a place to stay or replace certain contents.

RUMOR: If you register with your county or municipal emergency management office, you are registered with FEMA.

FACT: Not True! Registering with your county emergency management agency, the Red Cross, or with any other charitable organization is NOT the same as registering with FEMA. You still need to register with FEMA immediately after checking with your insurance agent to see if your damages are covered.

RUMOR:  I heard my income is too high to qualify for help from FEMA.

FACT: Regardless of your income, if you have damage or losses from Hurricane Matthew October 7th and live in Newport News, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, or Norfolk register with FEMA now. If you are eligible, FEMA may provide assistance for temporary housing, home repair and replacement or for medical, dental, funeral, and child-care expenses without regard to income. However, FEMA cannot duplicate assistance available through insurance or other sources. Register now.

RUMOR:  I heard FEMA will advise me to take out a loan and I can’t afford a loan.

FACT:  FEMA does not require you to take out a loan. FEMA does not have authority to require you to borrow money. However, FEMA may refer you to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)* to determine your eligibility for a low interest disaster loan. If SBA determines you aren’t eligible, SBA will refer you back to FEMA. This could make you eligible for more FEMA aid. If SBA offers you a loan, you are under no obligation to accept it.

*After a disaster, SBA makes low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and nonprofits.

RUMOR:  I heard if you can afford it, you should pay for repairs yourself because that leaves more for people who have a bigger need for help.

FACT:  FEMA has funding to help eligible Virginia survivors. Don’t cut yourself off from aid you may be eligible to receive. Register with FEMA now.

RUMOR:  If there are other family members or roommates living with me, FEMA isn’t going to give them any help.

FACT:  FEMA is committed to giving each individual survivor all the help he or she is eligible for. FEMA evaluates the needs of all eligible survivors on a case-by-case basis. Be sure to tell FEMA about the needs of all members of your household whether they are related to one another or not. Call the FEMA helpline at 800-321-3362 if you need to update your registration or have questions about the needs of any members of your household.

RUMOR: When survivors register, they immediately qualify and receive payments from FEMA.

FACT: After survivors register, their completed applications are reviewed, and an inspector may call to schedule an inspection at their home. Eligible survivors will receive a U.S. Treasury/State check or notification of a direct deposit to their bank accounts. Other types of assistance may be provided later, based on specific eligibility and need. 

RUMOR:  FEMA doesn’t pay survivors enough.

FACT:  FEMA grants are not the same as insurance. They are not intended to ‘make you whole.’ FEMA grants help eligible survivors with a start to get their lives back on track. They help with some basic disaster-related costs. They are usually not enough to get a household back to how it was before the disaster. FEMA looks at each case individually.

RUMOR:  I already cleaned up and repaired the damage to my home. I heard it’s too late to get help from FEMA.

FACT:  You may be eligible for FEMA assistance even if you’ve already repaired the damage. It will help if you have “before” photos and receipts for your repair expenses. Register with FEMA to find out more. You may be eligible for a grant for repair assistance that will help cover your costs. The deadline to register for FEMA registration is January 2, 2017.

RUMOR: FEMA assistance has to be repaid.

FACT:  FEMA assistance is a grant, not a loan. Grants do not have to be repaid. Some homeowners, renters, businesses, and nonprofit organizations may take out disaster recovery loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA loans have to be repaid but are at a lower interest rate than usual. Again, FEMA grants do not have to be repaid. In addition, FEMA grants are not taxable and do not affect your eligibility for other federal benefit programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

RUMOR:  If there are other family members or roommates living with me, FEMA isn’t going to give them any help.

FACT:  FEMA is committed to giving each individual survivor all the help he or she is eligible for. FEMA evaluates the needs of all eligible survivors on a case-by-case basis. Be sure to tell FEMA about the needs of all members of your household whether they are related to one another or not. Call the FEMA helpline at 800-321-3362 if you need to update your registration or have questions about the needs of any members of your household. 

RUMOR: There is no easy way to get true, reliable information about FEMA’s disaster assistance programs.

FACT: Straight answers and plain facts are available from the disaster assistance program experts on FEMA’s Help Line. Call 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585 to learn about disaster assistance programs. Toll-free lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Multilingual operators are available. Survivors can also go to their nearest Disaster Recovery Center to get questions answered. Trust information only from official sources.

RUMOR: If survivors receive FEMA assistance, it could reduce their Social Security benefits.

FACT: No. Disaster assistance does not count as income. FEMA assistance will not affect Social Security, Medicare, or other federal and state benefits, and it is not counted as income for tax purposes.

RUMOR: If you receive money from FEMA you have to pay it back.

FACT: FEMA grants do not have to be repaid.

RUMOR: Receiving a letter from FEMA stating the applicant is not eligible means the person will not get any assistance.

FACT: Not necessarily. Receiving such a letter does not always mean an applicant is not eligible for disaster aid, even when the letter states “ineligible” or “incomplete.” Such a letter can simply be an indication that further information is needed, or that the applicant’s insurance claim needs to be settled before disaster aid can be granted. Call the FEMA help line, 800-621-3362, or visit your nearest Disaster Recovery Center with questions.

RUMOR: If you take FEMA assistance, they take your property.

FACT: Not true. FEMA has no authority to take property of any kind from anyone.


Funding Obligations

Individual Assistance Amount
Total Housing Assistance (HA) - Dollars Approved $8,240,163.88
Total Other Needs Assistance (ONA) - Dollars Approved $1,955,450.31
Total Individual & Households Program Dollars Approved $10,195,614.19
Individual Assistance Applications Approved 2261
Public Assistance Amount
Emergency Work (Categories A-B) - Dollars Obligated $9,689,499.80
Permanent Work (Categories C-G) - Dollars Obligated $6,278,116.62
Total Public Assistance Grants Dollars Obligated $16,482,441.42
Last updated April 14, 2021