SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. – Officials urge survivors of the Sevier County wildfires to use their federal disaster aid for its intended purpose. Improperly using the funds could violate the declaration survivors sign to receive the grants and could result in future assistance being denied.
Once approved for disaster grants, survivors receive FEMA aid via check or an electronic direct deposit to their checking account. They receive a letter from FEMA providing information about the grant and how the money can be spent.
Before survivors receive their grants, they must sign a declaration and a release certifying that all funds will be spent on the expenses for which they are intended.
These grants are for repairs, temporary housing and other approved, essential disaster-related costs. Disaster recovery officials are available to help survivors understand the way grants should be spent after they receive the funds. Survivors of the Sevier County wildfires who have questions about their grants should call FEMA’s Helpline at 800-621-3362.
Federal officials caution that the funds may be deposited into bank accounts before letters announcing the grants are delivered to survivors.
Housing funds may be used for:
Rental assistance. Applicants who have a continuing need for temporary rental assistance must turn in valid lease and utility receipts to receive additional assistance.
Reimbursement for lodging expenses directly related to the disaster.
Repairs to windows, doors, water and ventilation systems or other structural elements to return a home to a safe and functional condition.
Rebuilding a disaster-damaged home.
Recipients of FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program grants may use the funds for:
Essential personal property, specialized tools for employment, household items, appliances and vehicle repair or replacement.
Disaster-related medical, dental, moving and child-care expenses.
Applicants should be sure to update their personal information including addresses, phone numbers and bank accounts. If FEMA does not have the correct contact information, disaster survivors may miss letters or phone calls about their applications for assistance or payment status.
FEMA grants cannot duplicate payments from other sources. For example, if a grant recipient receives an insurance settlement covering expenses already paid for by FEMA, those duplicated funds must be returned to FEMA.
Federal assistance is available to eligible individuals and households that suffered damage or losses in the Sevier County wildfires of Nov. 28 to Dec. 9. Survivors are encouraged to keep their information updated by logging into their accounts:
- Online at DisasterAssistance.gov (also in Spanish).
- Download the FEMA mobile app (also in Spanish).
- Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585. Toll-free numbers are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Help is available in most languages.
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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.