Sep 18 2004

FREQUENTLY ASKED DISASTER ASSISTANCE QUESTIONS FROM FEMA

Disaster Assistance Teleregistration Line: 1-800-621-FEMA

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) today released the following information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist Alabama residents navigate through the disaster assistance process.

To register for disaster assistance, call FEMA’s toll-free teleregistration line:
1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (hearing/speech impaired).


FEMA’S toll-free teleregistration line is receiving more calls than it has in the history of the agency. Additional call centers and operators have been added, but the volume remains extremely high. If you receive a busy signal when calling to register, please remain patient and try calling a few hours later. It is also encouraged to try calling late in the evening or early in the morning when call volume is often lighter.

Owners of commercial properties and residents with only minor losses are encouraged to wait a few days before calling so those whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged can be served first. Hurricane victims with insurance coverage should contact their insurance company or agent before calling to report losses and, if necessary, to request an advance or partial payment of their settlement.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FEMA's Individual Housing Program

1. QUESTION: What happens after an applicant applies for disaster assistance? Or, how long does it take to receive disaster assistance?

ANSWER: Within about ten days of your application to FEMA, a qualified inspector will contact you to set up a time to see your disaster damages. Your losses will be recorded and submitted to the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). Within about ten more days, you should have a decision about whether you qualify for help from IHP. If you have been referred for a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SBA will also contact you and schedule an appointment to review your disaster-related losses.

If you are eligible for help, you should receive a U.S. Treasury/State check or notification of a deposit to your bank account within about ten days of the inspector's visit. Other types of help may be provided later, based on specific eligibility and need

2. QUESTION: Should I wait until the inspectors come before I begin clean up?

ANSWER: You may clean before the inspection. If possible, take photos of the damage before you clean. Remember to keep receipts for all of your expenses.

3. QUESTION: Will I be reimbursed for living expenses I incurred while I was evacuated?

ANSWER: FEMA provides limited reimbursement for living expenses incurred during evacuations. To be eligible for reimbursement of living expenses incurred during evacuations, the home from where you are displaced must be your primary residence. In addition, the home must be either damaged by the disaster or you are prohibited from returning to the home once the general evacuation order is lifted because of the disaster. You should register and submit your receipts to see if the cost is covered. FEMA reviews these request on a case-by-case basis.

4. QUESTION: I purchased a generator. Will I be reimbursed?

ANSWER: FEMA reviews request for reimbursement of the cost of the generator on a case-by-case basis and determines if the generator was purchased to overcome a disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse condition. You should register and submit your receipts to see if the cost is covered.

5. QUESTION: Can I apply for help for my damaged car?

ANSWER: Yes. You will need to register and provide proof of ownership and insurance information for the vehicle.

6. QUESTION: Will FEMA pay for moving and storage expenses?

ANSWER: Costs of moving and storage may be covered, if these costs are directly related to the disaster. You should register and submit your receipts to see if the cost is covered.

7. QUESTION: My home that was damaged was a second home. Am I eligible for disaster assistance?

ANSWER: Damages to secondary homes or vacation homes are not eligible under FEMA's disaster assistance program. However, FEMA will review your other than housing losses on a case-by-case basis to determine eligibility.

8. QUESTION: I lost my food because of the power outage; will I be reimbursed for it?

ANSWER: FEMA's disaster assistance program does not cover food losses. Voluntary organizations in the disaster area may be able to help you with your immediate need for food.

Mass Care

9. QUESTION: How do I locate a missing loved one?

ANSWER: To locate displaced family members, individuals should call (866) GET-INF0 (438-4636), or contact their local chapter of the American Red Cross (www.redcross.com).

Insurance

10. QUESTION: I have insurance, am I eligible for assistance?

ANSWER: FEMA cannot duplicate assistance from your insurance company. If you still have serious unmet needs after receiving your insurance settlement, FEMA may be able to provide assistance in accordance with program guidelines.

11. QUESTION: Should I register for FEMA aid before settling with my insurance company?

ANSWER: If you have not already contacted your insurance agent to file a claim, please do this as soon as possible. Failure to file a claim with your insurance company may affect your eligibility for assistance from FEMA. FEMA encourages everyone with disaster damages to apply over the phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (hearing/speech impaired ONLY-call 1-800-462-7585).

12. QUESTION: My insurance company and I don't agree on settlement. Can I get FEMA grants in the meantime?

ANSWER: If you are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company, you should submit any insurance information you have to FEMA. Based on the information, FEMA will evaluate your eligibility and may be able to assist.

13. QUESTION: Are insurance deductibles covered under FEMA's programs?

ANSWER: FEMA does not cover insurance deductibles. However, if the insurance proceeds are insufficient to cover necessary expenses or serious needs, FEMA may be able to offer assistance.

Public Assistance

14. QUESTION: How do State and local governments apply for Public Assistance?

ANSWER: If a State, local or tribal government, or eligible private nonprofit (PNP) organization sustained damage during the Hurricane, they must complete and submit a Request for Public Assistance (FEMA Form 90-49) to the State Emergency Management within 30 days of the date of declaration or designation of the affected area. The form will be available at the Applicants' Briefings that the State and FEMA conducts. For a list of eligible PNP's, visit the FEMA web-site at http://www.fema.gov/rrr/pa/9521_3.shtm.

Immigration

15. QUESTION: Who is eligible for disaster assistance?

ANSWER: To be eligible for cash assistance from FEMA you must be a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien. However, undocumented non-citizens can apply on behalf of their minor child who is a citizen and has a social security number. FEMA can provide information on how to obtain a social security number for a minor child. The minor child must live with the parent/guardian applying on their behalf.

The undocumented applicant does not have to be a U.S. Citizen, non-citizen national or a qualified alien for Crisis Counseling, Disaster Legal Services or other short-term, non-cash emergency assistance. Voluntary agency assistance is provided regardless of immigration status.

16. QUESTION: If I am an undocumented immigrant, am I eligible for any assistance from FEMA?

ANSWER: You may be eligible for short-term, non-cash, emergency aid provided by FEMA. You will not be personally eligible for assistance from the Individuals and Households Program (IHP); however, if you have a child who is a US citizen, or there is another adult living in you home who meets the citizenship requirement, you may be eligible for assistance.

17. QUESTION: What are FEMA's citizenship/immigration requirements?

ANSWER: You must be a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National, or a Qualified Alien in order to be eligible for cash assistance from the Individuals and Households Program.