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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If your home was unlivable due to the disaster and you had to move your personal property into another home or a storage facility to protect it from further damage, FEMA may help cover your moving and/or storage expenses.

Child care assistance expenses may include:

  • Standard child care service fees.
  • Registration fee (one-time).
  • Health inventory fees.

Some sources of emergency water:

  • Water from your water heater tank (part of your drinking water system, not your home heating system)
  • Melted ice cubes made with water that was not contaminated
  • Liquid from canned fruit and vegetables

The hours of operation at FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) vary by location.  Please visit the DRC Locator to help you find you find the hours, services, and locations of local DRCs.

FEMA Home Repair Assistance is limited and is intended to provide funds for basic repairs to make the home livable. It is not the same as insurance and in most cases, it cannot restore your home to its pre-disaster condition.

To find more information for other resources, visit the Voluntary and Community-Based Organizations page.

FEMA may provide financial assistance to approved applicants for their uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs. FEMA does not cover insurance deductibles as a standalone, disaster-related cost. Applicants should submit any insurance proceeds or denials to FEMA so we can individually evaluate your eligibility if you have remaining unmet needs.

If you returned home and discovered property damage, update your application with FEMA by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.

Property damage will be evaluated by a FEMA inspector.

To be considered for FEMA disaster assistance, you must be one of the following:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Non-citizen national
  • Qualified non-citizen

A qualified non-citizen:

  • Legal permanent resident (“green card” holder)
  • Non-citizens granted asylum
  • Refugees
  • Non-citizens whose deportation status is being withheld for at least one year
  • Non-citizens paroled into the U.S. for at least one year for urgent humanitarian purposes or significant public benefit
  • Cuban/Haitian entrants
  • Certain battered non-citizens or their spouses or children
  • Certain victims of a severe form of human trafficking, including persons with a “T” or “U” visa

If you do not meet the citizenship requirements, the household may still apply for certain forms of federal assistance if:

  • The parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified non-citizen applies on behalf of the minor child, so long as they live in the same household. The parent or legal guardian must apply as the co-applicant, and the minor child must be under age 18 at the time the disaster occurred.

Learn More About These Requirements

When appealing a decision, include the following information on all pages of submitted documentation:

  • Your name
  • Disaster number
  • Application number (found on top of decision letter)

The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) is a 24/7, year-round, confidential, multi-lingual crisis counseling and emotional support resource for survivors, responders, and anyone in the U.S. struggling with distress or other mental health concerns related to any natural or human-caused disaster. You can call or text 800-985-5990 to connect with a trained mental health professional.

American Sign Language (ASL) users may also call 800-985-5990 through their videophone to connect with trained DDH counselors fluent in ASL or access the “ASL Now” option via the DDH website at https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a Disaster App. There, you can learn about resources that may be available to help you cope with the aftermath of a disaster.

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