What To Expect After Registering For Assistance
After registering for disaster assistance, a survivor may be contacted by a housing inspector to schedule an inspection. The inspection generally takes about 20-40 minutes. The inspector will want to see the damaged areas of the home and any damaged furniture and personal property. There is no fee for the inspection.
Housing inspectors always wear a FEMA badge and will not ask you for your unique 9-digit registration number. They will already have it on file.
If the home was found to be inaccessible at the time of inspection, the applicant is required to let FEMA know when the home is accessible and request a new inspection. To update the status of an uninhabitable dwelling, applicants should call the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-3362.
Someone 18 years of age or older must be present during the inspection. The inspector will also ask to see:
- Photo identification;
- Proof of ownership/occupancy of damaged residence (tax bill, mortgage payment book, rental agreement or utility bill);
- Insurance documents (homeowner’s or renter’s insurance and/or an auto insurance policy summary);
- List of people living in the residence at the time of disaster; and
- All disaster-related damages to both real and personal property.
Once the inspection process is complete, FEMA will review the case and send a letter to the applicant outlining a decision.
If an applicant is eligible for FEMA assistance, FEMA will send funds via check by mail or direct deposit into the survivor’s bank account. If a survivor receives money for rental assistance, the survivor must keep documentation and receipts of payments made and have a written landlord/tenant agreement for the time frame for which assistance is provided.
If an applicant is not eligible for FEMA assistance, FEMA will send a letter explaining why the applicant was determined ineligible. The applicant should read this letter carefully. Many times ineligibility is due to FEMA not having important information, such as an insurance settlement letter, proof of ownership or proof of occupancy. Applicants have 60 days to appeal a FEMA decision. The appeal process is detailed in the letter.
Understanding Your Determination Letter: What to Do Next
You may have received a letter from FEMA that says you are not eligible for housing assistance. Read your letter carefully to understand the reason for the determination, which may include one or more of the following:
- You were insured.
- You reported no home damage when you applied.
- Insufficient damage. Home is safe to occupy.
- No initial relocation.
- Proof of occupancy.
- FEMA could not verify your identity.
There are many reasons for potential ineligibility for Housing Assistance. If you still have essential needs, and FEMA asks for more information or additional documents, you can appeal the initial decision and be reconsidered for federal assistance.
To appeal a FEMA decision:
Send a letter, with any additional documentation, to FEMA asking for reconsideration. This must be done within 60 days of the date of your ineligibility letter.
FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program, National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville MD 20782-7055.
Or fax the documents to: 800-827-8112.
There may be other reasons why FEMA determined you were ineligible. However, you may still be eligible for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or a grant under FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program. If you have questions about the letter you received, get in touch with FEMA by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585).
For more information, click HERE.
Hurricane Michael Myths Vs. Facts
Myth #1: I'm a renter. I thought FEMA assistance was only for homeowners for home repairs.
FACT: FEMA assistance is not just paid for homeowners. FEMA may provide assistance to help renters who lost personal property or who were displaced.
Myth #2: I don't want to apply for help because others had more damage; they need the help more than I do.
FACT: FEMA has enough funding to assist all eligible survivors with their disaster-related needs.
Myth #3: I didn't apply for help because I don't want a loan.
FACT: FEMA only provides grants that do not have to be paid back. The grants may cover expenses for temporary housing, home repairs, replacement of damaged personal property and other disaster-related needs such as medical, dental or transportation costs not covered by insurance or other programs.
Myth #4: FEMA assistance could affect my Social Security benefits, taxes, food stamps or Medicaid.
FACT: FEMA assistance does not affect benefits from other federal programs and is not considered taxable income.
Cleaning Up After a Disaster
Your first step is to contact your insurance company to file a claim. Prioritize safety as you start your clean-up. Photograph/video damage and keep all receipts for repair work. As you clear debris, look carefully for any visible cables. If you see any cables, wait for professionals to handle them.
As you clean up, be sure to keep in mind the following information:
- Follow official local guidance when placing debris for collection.
- Separate debris into six categories when disposing along the curb:
- Electronics, such as televisions, computers or phones;
- Large appliances, such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves or dishwashers. Be sure to seal or secure the doors so that they are not accessible;
- Hazardous waste, such as oil, batteries, pesticides, paint or cleaning supplies. If you suspect that materials contain lead-based paint, keep them moist or contain materials in plastic bags so that the paint does not become airborne;
- Vegetative debris, such as tree branches, leaves or plants;
- Construction debris, such as drywall, lumber, carpet or furniture; and
- Household garbage, discarded food, paper or packaging.
- Place debris away from trees, poles or structures including fire hydrants and meters.
- Remove any water-damaged materials from your home and place curbside for pickup.
- Do not block the roadway with debris.
How to Help
- When disaster strikes, every little bit helps. To make the most of your contributions, please follow our guidelines to learn the most effective and safest ways to donate cash, goods, or time following a disaster.
- Cash is best. Financial contributions to recognized disaster relief organizations are the fastest, most flexible, and most effective method of donating. Organizations on the ground know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and, if possible, purchase through area businesses which supports economic recovery.
- Confirm donations needed. Critical needs change rapidly – confirm needed items BEFORE collecting; pack and label carefully; confirm delivery locations; arrange transportation. Unsolicited goods NOT needed burden local organizations’ ability to meet survivors’ confirmed needs, drawing away valuable volunteer labor, transportation, and warehouse space.
- Connect to volunteer. Trusted organizations operating in the affected area know where volunteers are needed, and can ensure appropriate volunteer safety, training, and housing.