AUBURN, Ala.— In the aftermath of a devastating storm or natural disaster, it is important to know which resources are available to you.
Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialists have compiled a list of things to know before filing claims and applying for assistance following a storm. This information can also be found in the Emergency Handbook iBook.
Applying for Assistance
Individual assistance for homeowners and renters can include grants to help pay for a rental house, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses not met by insurance or other assistance programs.
- Call FEMA’s toll-free registration number (800-621-3362). Hearing or speech impaired can use the TTY line (800-462-7585). Registration lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.
- Complete an online application at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
- Apply using a web-enabled mobile device or smartphone. Visit m.fema.gov and click on Apply Online for FEMA Assistance.
What You Need:
- address of your damaged home or apartment
- names of the people living in your household
- description of your disaster damages
- insurance information
- total household annual income
- your Social Security information
- telephone number where for you
- current address
- your bank account type, account number and routing number if you want disaster assistance funds sent directly to your bank
After completing the application, you will receive a FEMA application number. Write down this number and keep it for future reference.
Disaster Assistance Programs
A Disaster Recovery Center is a local facility or mobile office where you may go for information about FEM or other disaster assistance programs, or for questions related to your case.
It may provide:
- guidance regarding disaster recovery
- clarification of any written correspondence received
- housing assistance and rental resource information
- answers to questions, resolutions to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
- status of applications being processed by FEMA
- Small Business Administration program information if there is a representative at the DRC site
You may still be eligible for assistance if you have insurance, but the first step should be contacting your insurance agent to file a claim. If any of the following situations occur after you have filed a claim, FEMA may still be able to provide assistance.
- Your insurance settlement is delayed. Delayed means a decision on your insurance settlement has been delayed longer than 30 days from the time you filed the claim. A letter explaining your circumstance should be provided to FEMA. Include documentation.
- Your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your disaster-related needs. If you have received the maximum settlement from your insurance and still have an unmet disaster-related need, write a letter to FEMA indicating the unmet need. Provide documentation.
- You have exhausted the additional living expenses (ALE) provided by your insurance company. If you’ve exhausted your allotted resources and still need help with disaster-related temporary housing, write a letter to FEMA explaining your continued need for housing. Provide documentation.
- You are unable to locate rental resources in your area. The FEMA helpline has a list of rental resources in your area. If no resources are available in your county, then the helpline agent can provide you with resources in an adjacent county.
You have up to 12 months from the date you registered with FEMA to submit your insurance information for review. By law, FEMA cannot provide money to individuals or households for losses covered by insurance.
The Emergency Handbook brings together recommendations from national emergency response agencies and major universities into one easy-to-understand, interactive reference. It addresses nearly 50 disaster preparation and recovery topics in four broad categories, including: People and Pets, Home and Business, Landscape and Garden, and Farms and Livestock.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit www.aces.edu. The Emergency Handbook iBook is also available in pdf form and on iTunes. Contact your county Extension office for more information.
Featured image by shutterstock.com/michelmond.