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FEMA: Survivors Need to Spend Disaster Aid Wisely

Release date: 
August 6, 2012
Release Number: 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Tropical Storm Debby survivors should use their government grants only to meet specific disaster-related needs.

Federal assistance received from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency must be spent for repairs or replacement of items that were damaged as a direct result of the disaster and that are not covered by insurance.

Housing Assistance grants are intended for basic housing needs, including repairs to a septic system or private well. They may also be used for temporary rent payments or reimbursement of hotel/motel expenses.

Other Needs Assistance grants are intended to help repair or replace essential personal property and meet disaster-related medical, dental and funeral expenses.

FEMA financial assistance is provided by check or deposited electronically, and it is followed by a letter explaining how the money should be spent. Government-issued assistance may be audited. Survivors should keep receipts for three years to document disaster-related expenses.

Survivors who suspect someone is filing a false damage claim may call the FEMA fraud hotline at 800-323-8603.

The first step toward obtaining recovery assistance is to register with FEMA:

  • By phone, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time. Assistance is available in many languages. Those who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have a speech disability may use TTY 800-462-7585.
  • By computer, go online to
  • By smartphone or tablet, use

For more information on Florida’s disaster recovery, visit or On Facebook, go to To receive Twitter updates: or

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

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: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:11