Communities and people who suffered damage and losses in the wake of a disaster are urged to seek help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
There are many misconceptions surrounding grants and individual assistance help from FEMA. Often, people who qualify for assistance miss the opportunity due to a lack of information and understanding surrounding the process.
FEMA grant programs support citizens, communities and first responders. These offered grants ensure that grantees develop and maintain capabilities to protect against, respond to and recover from disasters. This process might seem relatively easy and straightforward. Don’t be fooled, however. This process is long and tedious. FEMA should not be considered a cure-all.
This blog will summarize a few common questions concerning disaster relief and FEMA grants:
What kind of FEMA grants are available? FEMA grants may help individuals pay for serious disaster-related expenses including temporary housing, emergency home repairs, personal property losses and medical, dental and funeral expenses resultant from a disaster.
Who exactly is allowed to apply for Federal aid individual assistance after an incident? The State, local, territorial, and tribal governments apply for disaster relief after an event and technically, homeowners and renters in disaster-designated counties who sustained damage to their home, vehicle or personal property are also advised to apply. When you apply make sure you have these items:
- Social Security Number
- Address of location where the damage occurred
- Current mailing address
- Current telephone number
- Insurance information
- Household income
- Bank information
- Description and pictures of disaster caused damage and losses
Some restrictions include:
- You must be a US citizen or a “qualified Alien.”
- You must not own another home you could reside in
Is applying for aid with insurance a problem? No, if you have homeowner’s insurance you must first file a claim with your insurance then apply for FEMA aid. FEMA assists with losses that will not be reimbursed by insurance. If you do have insurance, you must prove to FEMA that you have unsuccessfully tried to get insurance benefits.
How do I apply after a disaster? After a disaster, the best way to apply for assistance is to visit DisasterAssistance.gov or to call into FEMA. Also, keep in mind that survivors of a disaster have 60-days from the date of the declaration to apply for individual assistance. Here is a simple outline of the application process:
- Make an insurance claim
- Apply for FEMA aid (if denied aid, appeal)
- Submit a loan application to the Small Business Association (SBA)
- Seek out other assistance (some volunteer organizations, insurance companies, and other agencies offer support)
What happens after you apply? First, you will receive a phone call from a FEMA employee/inspector to arrange for a survey of the damages. If you have already cleaned up the damages, you may still be eligible for reimbursement, although before and after photos of the process help expedite these actions.
During a crisis, the Federal government can undoubtedly play a vital role in recovery, yet it’s your responsibility to be prepared and informed. Start with understanding the basics and then research grant flaws, personal stories, and lessons learned from disasters. There are cases of individuals having to pay back FEMA grants, not getting enough aid and getting denied completely.
Being prepared for a disaster entails a lot of physical processes and planning steps but also requires educating yourself on the correct measures that should be taken before, during and after an event. If you would like to understand more about FEMA, grant programs, and emergency preparedness, please take a look at our “Key to Recovery” and feel free to reach out to me at McKenzie.Parrott@cdrmaguire.com.