OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- If your home or property was damaged by Oklahoma's May 10-13 severe storms and tornadoes, getting the correct answers to your questions and knowing where to go for help is vital to your recovery.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offer disaster assistance to eligible homeowners, renters and business owners. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about federal disaster assistance:
How do I apply?
There are several ways to apply for disaster assistance. Residents can apply online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with speech or hearing impairments should call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.
What kinds of assistance are available?
Disaster assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance or other aid programs. Grants do not have to be repaid.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations to repair or replace damaged real estate and personal property. SBA also offers low-interest working capital loans to small businesses with working capital needs as a result of the disaster. The disaster loans cover uninsured or uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, call 1-800-659-2955, or (TTY) 1-800-877-8339 for people with hearing or speech impairments.
Am I eligible for Individual Assistance if I already have insurance?
You should apply for assistance even if you have insurance, because you may find that you are underinsured or have unmet needs after your insurance settlement. If you have not already contacted your insurance agent to file a claim, please do this as soon as possible. Failure to file a claim with your insurance company may affect your eligibility for assistance. Insurance is your main source for money to put your life back in order after a disaster. But there are many things that insurance does not cover, so disaster programs may be able to help. You should not wait for your insurance settlement to apply to the SBA. SBA will process your application subject to your insurance settlement.
I have applied. What happens next?
After you apply, FEMA will send you a copy of your application and a copy of "Help After a Disaster: Applicant's Guide to the Individuals and Households Program," which will answer many of your questions. This useful publication explains how FEMA's disaster assistance program works; describes additional kinds of help you may qualify for from other federal, state and voluntary agencies; and gives you many important tips on how best to make all these programs work for you.
If your home or its contents are damaged and you are uninsured or underinsured, a FEMA inspector may contact you within about 10 days after you apply to schedule a time to meet with you at your damaged home. All inspectors carry photo ID that shows they are affiliated with the U.S. government.
The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to cover the uncompensated losses for personal contents up to $40,000 for both homeowners and renters and up to $200,000 for homeowners for physical damage to their primary residence. The SBA also provides low-interest loans up to $2 million for uncompensated physical losses suffered by businesses of any size and private, non-profit organizations. Additionally, working capi...