Main Content

Use Disaster Relief Funds Wisely

Release date: 
November 15, 2011
Release Number: 

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Federal and Commonwealth disaster officials caution Pennsylvanians who received disaster assistance funds to use the money wisely. To date, more than $276 million in federal grants, disaster loans and insurance payouts have been approved for those recovering from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and that figure will rise as individuals continue to register for assistance.

"The funds to disaster survivors cover immediate or basic needs but in many cases cannot make up for the losses many have experienced," said Federal Coordinating Officer Thomas J. McCool.”With that in mind, it is important that monies are used for the purposes intended.”

Penalties for the misuse of disaster assistance funds may include the grantee being required to pay the money back and being denied grant assistance if a future disaster occurs.

Housing Assistance funds may be used for:

  • Repairs to return the home to a safe and functional condition, which may include repairs to windows, doors, water and ventilation systems, or other structural parts of a home.
  • Housing reimbursement for lodging expenses directly related to the disaster – receipts for these expenses will be requested.

Other Needs Assistance funds may be used for:

  • Medical, dental and funeral expenses.
  • Personal property, specialized tools for employment, household items, appliances, vehicle repair, and other serious needs.

U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan funds may be used for:

  • Homeowners and renters to repair or replace disaster damages to real estate and/or personal property losses, including automobiles.
  • Business owners to repair or replace disaster damages to property owned by the business, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery, and equipment.
  • Business Economic Injury Loans are to be used for necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.

 “Recovery funds used properly by individuals after a disaster help the entire community return to functioning normally,” said Commonwealth Coordinator John Forr. “Everyone benefits and it’s the right thing to do.”

The deadline to register for disaster assistance is December 14, 2011. If you have not yet registered, call 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. Multilingual operators answer calls seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. You also can register online at or by smart phone or tablet at If you have a disability and need help registering, don’t hesitate to contact FEMA.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: