Commonly Asked Questions
Following an emergency or disaster, what should I do if I'm unable to meet my basic needs?
Request help from the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other charitable organizations. These agencies typically help individuals and families with necessities - such as food, medical assistance, shelter, cleanup, transportation and clothing. Emergency assistance through voluntary agencies is available to everyone affected by a disaster without regard to citizenship or other status.
What role does insurance play in helping me recover?
Having the right kind of insurance is key to your disaster recovery. If you are insured, government programs may supplement it - but only after you've exhausted your benefits. If you have insurance, make sure you know what it covers and excludes.
When and how does the federal government get involved?
The Governor must formally ask the President to make a disaster declaration. If a declaration is made, several state and federal government agencies will come together to administer assistance programs in designated counties. To establish eligibility for assistance you must first register with FEMA using the toll-free disaster application line. FEMA may also open temporary Disaster Recovery Centers to help people get information and assistance.
Who is eligible for government assistance?
Individuals, families and small business owners in the counties included in the disaster declaration may be eligible - including renters, homeowners, farmers and ranchers. To be eligible for federal and state government programs you must be a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national or a "qualified" alien.
How can I find out if I am eligible for government help?
The only way to know if you are eligible is to call the FEMA toll-free assistance line. The number is 1-800-621-FEMA or TTY 1-800-462-7585 if you are speech or hearing-impaired. You must register within a 60-day application period even if you think insurance might cover your losses.
What information should I have when I call FEMA?
FEMA will process your application as quickly as possible - but first they will need to get information. The interviewer will ask you a number of questions, many of which you can prepare for in advance. Examples include:
- Your Name
- Your social security number
- The number of people living in your household
- Your income
- Address of your damaged dwelling
- Cause of damage to your dwelling
- Description of loss, with as much detail as possible
- Date of Loss
- Insurance information
- Your current mailing address
- A phone number where you can be reached to arrange for an inspection of damaged property.
What happens after I apply for assistance?
Your application will be processed as quickly as possible but if there is property damage, an inspector must first visit the damage site to verify losses.