FEMA: Disaster Officials Offer Tips to Speed Assistance

BURLINGTON – In the wake of late spring storms and flooding, a June 15 presidential disaster declaration provides assistance to homeowners, renters and businesses that suffered damage in Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and Orleans counties.
Disaster recovery officials urge residents and businesses dealing with severe storm damage and loss to adopt a take-charge action plan to help speed the possibility of obtaining state and federal disaster aid:
Register Now:
  • Don’t wait. Homeowners, renters and business owners who suffered disaster-related damage or loss should call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) registration line at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 for the hearing- or speech impaired. Online registration is available at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or directly through web-enabled mobile devices or smartphones at m.fema.gov. Multilingual resources are available.
  • Register, even if you are insured. Your insurance coverage may not be adequate and some foundation damage may not appear until later. Anyone who suffered any damage or loss should register for assistance.
  • Disaster assistance covers a wide range of losses. Structural damage or repair is covered, as is damage or loss of essential personal property, such as a major appliance or medical equipment (wheelchairs, etc).
After Registering:
  • Keep critical appointments. A FEMA-contracted inspector will make an appointment to visit your home, usually within a week. Make every effort to be at home or you can authorize an agent to be present. Use the Helpline option at the FEMA registration toll-free numbers for contact updates, including your agent’s name, a new phone number, or to change appointment times.
  • Return all forms promptly. After registering, you may receive a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan application package in the mail. Fill out and return these forms promptly since they are an essential part of the disaster-assistance process.
  • Stay in touch. Use the Helpline for answers to your questions about federal assistance, the same number you called to register for aid.
  • Have realistic expectations. You should not expect disaster assistance to restore you to       pre-disaster conditions. It is intended to help you get safe and sanitary housing and meet other critical needs so you can begin your long-term recovery.
  • Read all FEMA letters and documents.Applicants deemed eligible for disaster assistance will receive a letter from FEMA providing guidance on their disaster relief grant. It will tell you about ways the money can be spent in your recovery. Be advised that federal assistance may have to be repaid if it is duplicated by insurance or other assistance received.
  • Talk to FEMA if you have questions, especially about insurance. If you receive a FEMA letter saying your application has been denied, it often means that one or more aspects of your application require further information or correction. An “INS-Insured” denial does not necessarily mean “case closed,” it means you must first settle with your insurer to prevent any duplication of payments.
  • Keep FEMA in mind after your insurance settlement. You may have been underinsured and some uncompensated losses may be eligible for some form of disaster aid. Call the Helpline if your insurance settlement is delayed, if it does not cover all of your loss, if you can’t find rental housing in your area, or if your additional living expense benefits are exhausted. Remember, failure to file a claim with your insurer within 12 months can affect your eligibility for FEMA assistance.
·         Rebuild with disaster prevention in mind. Before starting any repairs or reconstruction, check with local building officials on required permits and inspections. If you were displaced from your home and incurred hotel or motel expenses, save your receipts and check with FEMA on possible reimbursement.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
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 loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov or completed on-line at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

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