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FACT SHEET: Florence Survivors What to Expect When You Apply for FEMA Assistance

Release date: 
September 25, 2018
Release Number: 
DR-4394-SC FS 001

Columbia, S.C.-Homeowners and renters in Dillon, Horry, Marion and Marlboro counties who sustained damage from Hurricane Florence may apply for disaster assistance with FEMA.

Applying for Disaster Assistance
If you are in one of the designated counties, you will need the following when you apply for assistance:

  • Social Security Number;
  • Daytime telephone number;
  • Current mailing address and address and ZIP Code of the damaged property; and
  • Insurance information, if available.

Visit DisasterAssistance.gov to check your eligibility for federal, state and voluntary agency disaster assistance in your community or call 800-621-3362 (800-462-7785 TTY). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish) to check eligibility.

On the Day of Your Inspection
After you apply for federal disaster assistance, you may be contacted by a FEMA-contracted housing inspector to schedule an inspection to verify disaster-related damage. The inspection generally takes about 20-40 minutes. The inspector will want to see the damaged areas of your home and your damaged furniture and personal property. There is no fee for the inspection.

If your home was found to be inaccessible at the time of inspection, you are required to let FEMA know when the home is accessible and request a new inspection to be issued. To update your information, you must call the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-3362.

Once the status of your home is updated and you have requested a new inspection a FEMA-contracted inspector will contact you to schedule your inspection.

When a housing inspector comes to visit your home, be sure they show you their FEMA photo ID badge. If you are not shown FEMA photo identification, do not allow the inspection. Disasters often bring out scam artists who prey on the needs of disaster survivors.

Someone 18 years of age or older must be present during the inspection. The inspector will also ask to see:

  • Photo identification;
  • Proof of ownership/occupancy of damaged residence (tax bill, mortgage payment book, rental agreement or utility bill);
  • Insurance documents (homeowner’s or renter’s insurance and/or a summary of your auto insurance policy);
  • List of people living in the residence at the time of disaster; and
  • All disaster-related damages to both real and personal property.

Once the inspection process is complete, your case will be reviewed by FEMA and you will receive a letter outlining the decision about your claim.

If You Qualify for FEMA Assistance:
FEMA will send you a check by mail or deposit it directly into your bank account. If you receive money for rental assistance, be sure to keep documentation and receipts of payments. If you pay to stay somewhere, you should have a written landlord/tenant agreement for the time frame for which assistance is provided.

If You Do Not Qualify for FEMA Assistance:
You will receive a letter explaining why you may not be eligible. Read this letter carefully. Many times applicants are determined ineligible because FEMA is missing important information, such as an insurance settlement letter, proof of ownership or proof of occupancy. You have 60 days to appeal this decision; the appeal process is detailed in the letter.

FEMA assistance may include help to pay for: temporary housing, emergency home repairs and rental assistance; medical, dental and funeral expenses; essential personal property; or miscellaneous immediate need items.

FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments. However, those without insurance or those who may be underinsured may still receive help after their insurance claims have been settled.

Applying for Low-Interest Disaster Loans:
After registering for disaster assistance, you may be asked to fill out an application with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA offers low-interest disaster loans for businesses and nonprofit organizations of all sizes, homeowners and renters. Completing a home application makes it possible to be considered for additional financial awards. You do not have to accept the loan if you qualify.

SBA applicants may apply online at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.  More information about low-interest SBA disaster loans and application forms is available online at SBA.gov/disaster or by calling 800-659-2955 (TTY users call 800-877-8339) or via email to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov.  Call SBA at 800-659-2955 to have an application mailed to you. 

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Last Updated: 
September 25, 2018 - 14:29