Frequently Asked Questions About Disasters

This page offers answers to frequently asked questions about Individual Assistance for disaster survivors.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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Does FEMA conduct debris removal from my residence?

In limited circumstances—based on the severity of the effects of an incident and whether debris on private property threatens public health and safety or the economic recovery of the community—FEMA may determine that debris removal from private property is eligible under the Public Assistance Program. In such cases, FEMA works with the state, local, tribal or territorial  governments to designate specific areas where debris removal from private property, including private waterways, is eligible. The debris removal must be in the public interest, not merely benefiting an individual or a limited group of individuals.

If you need immediate assistance with debris removal from a disaster, check to see if a Crisis Cleanup Hotline has been set up in your area. 

Does FEMA provide unemployment assistance after a disaster?

Under a major presidentially declared disaster designated for Individual Assistance, a state, tribe, or territory may request Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Disaster Unemployment Assistance is funded by FEMA and implemented by FEMA and the Department of Labor (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA). DOL-ETA works with the State Workforce Agencies to provide unemployment assistance to survivors who are unemployed or unable to access their jobs due to the disaster and who both meet all eligibility requirements for DUA and are ineligible for any other unemployment benefits from the state. 

What to do if you miss a phone call or a visit from a FEMA representative after you’ve applied for assistance?

After applying for disaster assistance, FEMA must verify your disaster-caused damage through an onsite or remote inspection. After you submit your application, FEMA staff or an inspector will call multiple times over several days to connect with you and discuss your disaster-caused damage. Their number may appear as unknown or as a restricted phone number. If FEMA is unable to reach you, you will be sent a letter of notice. Your application cannot be processed further. You can check the status of your application or read any FEMA letters by accessing your account.

To proceed, you must call FEMA’s Helpline at 800-621-3362, confirm your contact information, and verify your need for assistance. The inspection and application process will resume once your need for assistance has been verified with FEMA staff and inspectors using your new or updated contact information to make future outreach.

Do not re-submit or create a new application during the disaster assistance process. For general information about FEMA virtual or onsite home inspections, please visit the Home Inspections page.

How can I volunteer or donate? I want to help!

Money is the best way to help disaster survivors. Cash donations allow the voluntary agency to quickly address urgent needs.If you want to volunteer, you can find trusted organizations that are operating in affected areas by visiting National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.

For more information on how you can help, visit our Volunteer and Donate page.

How can I apply for a job at FEMA?

You can explore the FEMA Careers page to find your fit and see what opportunities are currently available.

Does help from FEMA have to be paid back?

No. Grants are not loans, and don’t have to be repaid. They are not taxable income and won’t affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

I was relocated and don't know if my home was damaged. Can I still apply for assistance?

If you were relocated or were evacuated and don't know if your home was damaged, tell FEMA your current situation and the best ways to contact you. Contact FEMA by calling 800-621-3362. If you use a video relay service, captioned telephone service, or other communication services, please provide FEMA the specific number assigned for that service.

How do I know if my area is eligible for assistance?

The disaster declaration designates which areas are eligible to receive Federal assistance. To see if your area has been declared:

  1. Visit
  2. Enter your city or zip code into the look-up box.
  3. Find your county/parish under “declared counties.”

FEMA disaster assistance applications are accepted for 60 days from the date of the disaster declaration.

What basic Information will I need ready when I apply?

To apply for FEMA assistance, you will need to provide your:

  • Social Security Number
  • Insurance coverage information
  • Disaster related damage
  • Annual Gross Income for everyone in your household
  • Contact information (mailing address, email, phone numbers, etc.)
  • Direct deposit information (optional)
Where do I update my information and check on the status of my application?
  • You can apply or update your information online at, by calling 800-621-3362 or through the FEMA mobile app.
  • If you use a video relay service, captioned telephone service, or other communication services, please provide FEMA the specific number assigned for that service.

Last updated September 27, 2022