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What to Expect After Applying for Disaster Assistance

Release date: 
March 9, 2019
Release Number: 
DR-4419-AL NR003

ATLANTA – Lee County survivors of the March 3 severe storms and tornadoes should file a claim with their insurance company immediately and begin cleaning up. Disaster damage should be documented through photos/videos, and all receipts for disaster-related purchases should be kept.

If you have uninsured or underinsured losses from the storms, contact FEMA for disaster assistance by visiting or calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585).

If disaster-related damage is insured, FEMA may not send a home inspector right away. You’ll need to submit insurance documentation to show your coverage doesn’t meet your disaster-related needs or you have exhausted the Additional Living Expenses provided by the insurance company. FEMA cannot pay for damage covered by insurance or duplicate benefits from another source.

If you register for disaster assistance, a home inspector may contact you to schedule an appointment seven to 10 days after registration. During that call, write down:

  • The inspector's name.
  • Date of call.
  • Date and time of appointment.
  • Inspector’s telephone number.

The inspection generally takes 30 to 40 minutes and consists of looking at disaster-damaged areas of your home and reviewing your records. Inspectors can only verify your loss. They do not decide the outcome of your application for disaster assistance nor condemn property. FEMA inspects damaged property for disaster-recovery program purposes only. Inspectors will never ask for money.

The inspector will ask to see:

  • Photo identification.
  • Proof of ownership/occupancy of damaged residence such as homeowners insurance, a tax bill, mortgage-payment book or utility bill.
  • Insurance documents: home and/or auto (structural insurance/auto declaration sheet).
  • List of household occupants living in residence at time of disaster.
  • Disaster-related damage to both real and personal property.

Your inspector will have FEMA identification in the form of a badge with a photo. If the inspector does not show you photo identification, do not proceed with the inspection.

You may receive a visit from more than one inspector during the recovery process. In addition to FEMA-contracted housing inspectors, representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as state and local officials may also visit neighborhoods in affected areas.

Survivors should receive a determination letter with their eligibility decision and the reason for it by regular mail or email, typically within seven to 10 days after the inspection.

For those who are eligible, the letter states the dollar amount of the grant and how the money must be used. If you disagree with FEMA’s decision, the letter explains how you can appeal the decision.

Read your determination letter carefully. FEMA may need additional information or documentation from you—such as an insurance settlement showing you may not have been covered for all your essential needs—before you can be reconsidered for federal assistance.

If you have any questions, you can always contact the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). Find more details about the FEMA inspection process by visiting


FEMA’s mission: Helping people before, during, and after disasters.

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). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

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 to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.


Last Updated: 
March 9, 2019 - 09:46