Tips when applying for FEMA disaster assistance

We find out what you will need to provide to get aid for storm damage.

FEMA workers are going door-to-door in Hillsborough County, helping people register for disaster relief funds from the federal government that will help pay for Irma-related damages.

We asked them some of your top questions.

How do I apply for Disaster Assistance?

Go to DisasterAssistance.gov to fill out an online application. Or, call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 to apply over the phone.

You can also apply inperson at FEMA Disaster Relief Centers. To find the closest one to you, go to this website.

What information do I need to apply?

Here’s what you need:

  • Your insurance info. Tell them what kind of insurance you have. If you have certain kinds of insurance, like homeowners insurance, it may decrease the amount of assistance you receive.
  • Description of the damage. Describe what happened and what you’re filing a claim for. Also, try to provide pictures and videos of before and after to help illustrate damage.
  • Receipts. Save your receipts from any repairs you made to hurricane-related damage. They’ll want to see them when you apply for assistance.
  • Financial info. FEMA will ask you for your household income before taxes.
  • Contact info. They’ll ask for the address of the property where the damage occurred and for a phone number to reach you at.

How long does the process take?

Keith St. Clair, a strategic communications advisor with FEMA, told us there’s no specific timetable. Over 40,000 employees, including FEMA workers, are now helping with Irma relief and they’re hoping that a large staff will help applications be processed faster.

If I have homeowners insurance, flood insurance, or car insurance, etc., will it affect my amount of disaster relief?

Yes. FEMA told us they “fill in the gaps” between what insurance covers and the cost of damages. For example, if your insurance covers 100 percent of the damages you incurred, your FEMA assistance may be minimal. But, FEMA says they will try to provide assistance for whatever costs insurance doesn’t cover. They will work to cover 100 percent of the damages for people without insurance.

How do I to spot FEMA scams?

Beware of people who say they’re with FEMA and ask for personal information right then and there. FEMA will only ask for your personal information in your online application or if you fill out your application at a FEMA designated Disaster Relief Center.

Also, if you check the status of your FEMA application, they may ask for personal info. If FEMA workers knock on your door, they’ll always wear government ID badges.

FEMA says they will never ask for money from you for applications or other disaster relief efforts. Do not pay anyone who says they’re with FEMA.

For more on possible FEMA scams, click here.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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