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Misunderstandings About Disaster Assistance

Release date: 
February 28, 2009
Release Number: 

OLYMPIA, Wash.-- Officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Washington Emergency Management Division (WEMD) continue to urge residents in declared counties affected by the January 6-16, 2009, severe winter storm, landslides, mudslides, and flooding, to apply for disaster assistance. They urge residents not to let misunderstandings and misconceptions prevent them from applying for assistance to help in their recovery. Applicants should call the toll free teleregistration number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY 1-800-462-7585)to register for assistance.

Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn said, "We want people to call 1-800-621-FEMA to get accurate information about the variety of disaster assistance programs available. There are some misconceptions out there, and we want people affected by the disaster to call this number, get correct information, and apply if they have damages."

FEMA, WEMD, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offer a variety of programs to help disaster victims. The following are some commonly asked questions and their responses with accurate information about federal and state disaster programs and services:

I rent an apartment. Can I still get help?
Yes. Renters may be eligible for assistance with temporary housing needs if their home is unlivable because of the disaster. Renters may also qualify for SBA low-interest disaster loans or other needs assistance for disaster related personal property, transportation, and other losses.

I gave information to my local emergency manager (or the Red Cross). Do I still need to register with FEMA?
Yes.  To be eligible for federal and state disaster assistance, you must first apply by calling  1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY 1-800-462-7585). You may also apply online at  

I have already repaired my home. Can I still receive assistance?
You should still apply, because it is possible to get reimbursed for all or some of those expenses if they are not covered by insurance. Keep your receipts for disaster-related repairs and show them to the inspector.

I think I make too much money to qualify for disaster aid. Can I still apply?
Yes. Federal and state disaster assistance programs are available to all who suffered damages. The SBA is a major source of disaster loan assistance and part of the registration process. People affected by a disaster should apply.

I haven't found that much damage yet.  I don't think I need assistance, so why should I still apply?
You should apply because sometimes damage related to a disaster is not immediately identifiable.  For example, homes that were flooded may develop mold later when the weather gets warmer. These households will only be eligible for disaster assistance to remove the mold if residents have registered.

I don't think I should apply for assistance.  I know that other people need it more than I do.
If you suffered damages because of the disaster, you should not hesitate to apply. If you have suffered damages, or might have suffered damages, there may be funding available to assist you with taking care of those damages.

I don't own a business. Why should I apply for a loan from the SBA?
You should apply because the SBA Disaster Loan program is a major source of recovery funds for individuals and families, as well as for businesses. In addition, being denied an SBA loan can be a condition for further assistance.

I have insurance. Am I still eligible for help?

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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