The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes available disaster assistance (e.g., grants funding) to people affected by a major presidentially declared disaster, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.
How do I apply for disaster assistance?
- Visit disasterassistance.gov to apply for disaster assistance or call 800-621-3362 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. EST seven days a week
- To apply for housing assistance (such as if you lost your primary residence, either as a renter or as a homeowner), visit fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance
When you apply for disaster assistance (be it online or over the phone), you must have the following information:
- Social Security Number
- Address where the damage occurred
- Current mailing address
- Current telephone number
- Insurance information
- Total household annual income
- Routing and account number for your checking or savings account
- Description of disaster-caused damages and losses
According to FEMA, within 10 days of receiving an application, the agency will call the homeowner/renter and schedule an appointment for a home inspection. FEMA adds that in the event of a catastrophic disaster, these appointments may take longer than 10 days to schedule.
After the inspection, people who qualify for disaster assistance (grants funding) will receive:
- A check by mail or a direct deposit into a checking or savings account
- A letter explaining how the funds may be used
People who don’t qualify for disaster assistance (grants funding) will receive a:
- A letter explaining how FEMA reached its decision
- Information about the appeals process
If you receive grants funding from FEMA, you do not have to pay the funds back.
FEMA does not offer assistance for small businesses affected by a disaster, but the agency does partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which offers low-interest loans for business damages. These loans must be repaid.
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