FEMA Disaster Assistance

10.10.17: Deadline to Register for FEMA Disaster Assistance is Nov. 9

Homeowners and renters who suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Irma have one month left to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for possible federal disaster assistance.

The 30-day registration timeframe is fast approaching for survivors to apply for disaster assistance from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Survivors of Hurricane Irma have 60 days from the Sept. 10 date of disaster declaration to apply for Individual Assistance.

Anyone who sustained a loss in any of the 48 Individual Assistance–designated Florida counties should register before the deadline even if they have insurance.

Federal disaster assistance may help eligible applicants with temporary housing, disaster-related uninsured personal property losses, medical, dental and funeral expenses, along with other disaster-related expenses and serious needs.

The quickest way to apply for federal assistance is online at www.disasterassistance.gov or through a smartphone or tablet at www.fema.gov/apply-assistance.

There are also four Disaster Recovery Centers in the Keys where people can apply in person. They are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and are located at:

• Marathon: Marathon City Park, 3911 Overseas Highway,

• Islamorada: Fire Station #20, 81850 Overseas Hwy.

• Big Pine Key: Big Pine Key Community Park, 31009 Atlantis Dr.

• Key West: Fire Station #2, 616 Simonton St.

Today, there are also three FEMA mobile disaster survivor assistance teams going around in neighborhoods in Key Largo and Key Colony Beach to help people register. They will be wearing FEMA vests and never ask for money.

Survivors may also apply by phone at 800-621-3362 for voice, 711 and Video Relay Service (VRS).

Next to insurance, SBA low-interest disaster loans are the survivor’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged property.

Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are also available to help with residential and business losses notcovered by insurance. Businesses of all sizes, homeowners, and renters may obtain information on SBA disaster loan applications by calling 800-659-2955 or online at www.SBA.gov.

For those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use a TTY, call 800-877-8339. They may also apply for disaster loans at www.disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Get more information by visiting www.FEMA.gov/IrmaFL and FEMA’s Facebook page, and by following @FEMARegion4 on Twitter.

 

FEMA ELIGIBILITY LETTERS EXPLAINED

All applicants receive letters from the Federal Emergency Management Administration explaining the status of their applications and whether or not they are eligible for assistance from FEMA. Some may receive text messages about their application. Take the time to read the document thoroughly. Sometimes people do not immediately qualify for financial help and the reason can be corrected.

The following are some common reasons for not qualifying:

• The applicant did not sign the required documents

• Proof of ownership or occupancy was not supplied

• No proof the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster

• Someone else in the household may have applied and received assistance

If questions arise, call the FEMA helpline (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362. (TTY users should call 800-462-7585.) The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.

You also can take the letter to a disaster recovery center and talk with staff individually. To locate the nearest center, visit FEMA.gov/DRC or call the FEMA helpline.

FEMA can never duplicate insurance benefits or other government sources, but if insurance is not sufficient to cover all the eligible damage, FEMA’s initial determination of ineligibility may change.

Every applicant has the right to file an appeal. The original letter provides an explanation of the steps to appeal FEMA’s decision. Bring the letter to a disaster recovery center for help with the appeals process or call the FEMA helpline.

Appeals must be filed in writing within 60 days of the date of the determination letter. The letter must explain why the initial decision was wrong and provide new or additional information.

Appeals can be mailed to:

FEMA – Individuals & Households Program

National Processing Service Center

P.O. Box 10055

Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

 

The FEMA FAQ on “Letters of Eligibility” can be accessed at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/help/faqs

 

FEMA HOUSING ASSISTANCE

People whose homes were destroyed or damaged and have windstorm, flood and/or homeowners insurance should first contact their insurance carriers for housing assistance.

People whose primary homes were destroyed or damaged, or rented homes that were destroyed and damaged, can register with FEMA for Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA). This federal program provides short-term lodging for eligible disaster survivors. This lodging could include hotels.

The first step: Register for FEMA Disaster Assistance.

This can be done online by:

• Going to disasterassistance.gov

• Calling the FEMA Helpline (800) 621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS-Video Relay Service) (TTY: (800) 462-7585)

• Registering in person in Key West at Fire House No. 2 mobile site at the corner of Angela and Simonton or at the Marathon Skate Park at the Community Park.

 

To be eligible for TSA, individuals and households must:

• Pass identity and citizenship verification.

• Have a pre-disaster primary residence located in a geographic area that is designated for TSA.

• Be displaced from their pre-disaster primary residence, as a result of the disaster.

• Be unable to obtain lodging through another source.

 

For those people who are approved, FEMA will authorize and fund TSA through direct payments to participating hotels/motels or by issuing direct sheltering funds to an eligible recipient.

The list of approved hotels is available at DisasterAssistance.gov or call the FEMA Helpline (800) 621-3362

The County also is working with state and local officials to try to make vacation rentals eligible for this program.

 

LONG TERM ASSISTANCE/TRAVEL TRAILERS AND MOBILE HOMES

This week, during Gov. Rick Scott and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke’s visit to the Monroe County Emergency Operations Center in Marathon, the County submitted a request for 1,700 travel trailers and 7,500 mobile home units.

However, due to Hurricane Harvey that struck Texas, and other disasters, there is not a stock of available travel trailers and mobile homes. It will be months before they are available.

 

FAITH-BASED, NONPROFIT, COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATIONS MIGHT QUALIFY FOR FEMA AID

Faith-based organizations, in addition to other community, volunteer and nonprofit organizations in areas eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance program as part of a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration may apply for FEMA grants to help them get back to the business of helping others.

As part of its mission, FEMA provides grants to state, local, tribal and territorial governments and certain private nonprofits through its Public Assistance program. Community, volunteer, faith-based and private nonprofit organizations conducting critical and essential services of a governmental nature that sustained disaster damage may be able to receive FEMA Public Assistance  grants to repair or replace their facilities so they can continue offering critical and essential community services.

Types of organizations that provide critical services that may qualify for FEMA PA grants include:
• Private schools that provide elementary or secondary education or an institution of higher education
• Hospitals and other medical-treatment facilities
• Utilities including water, sewer and electrical systems

Types of noncritical, essential services that may be eligible for Public Assistance grants include:
• Senior citizen and community centers or other community services
• Food programs
• Educational enrichment activities
• Custodial and day care services
• Disability residential services
• Assisted living and low-income housing
• Homeless shelters and rehabilitation services
• Performing and community arts centers

Additionally, when any organization, such as faith-based organizations, schools or community centers, provide emergency protective measures such as sheltering and feeding survivors on behalf of state, local, tribal, or territorial governments, FEMA may reimburse the costs of those services to the state, local, tribal or territorial government. The government and the organization must enter into an agreement for these services, even if the agreement is post-event, and the government could then reimburse the organization.

Only organizations with state or IRS tax-exempt status may be considered. For more information about eligible providers, go online to FEMA.gov and reference the Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide.

Organizations that provide services of a noncritical, essential governmental nature must first apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) before being considered for a PA grant. Public Assistance grants may be able to provide assistance to organizations that provide noncritical, essential governmental services for repair or replacement costs that SBA loans do not cover.

The SBA may provide up to $2 million to most private nonprofits in the form of low interest disaster loans. To learn more about and apply for an SBA loan go online to sba.gov/disaster or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. If you cannot access the website, call 800-659-2955. If you use TTY, call800-877-8339.

The first step to receive a FEMA PA grant for your faith-based, community, volunteer or other private nonprofit organization is to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to the state, tribe or territory within the deadline, typically 30 days after designation of the area, but it may be extended. Information on the RPA deadline is updated on state, tribe or territory emergency management websites. Faith-based organizations should contact their state, local, tribal or territorial emergency management office for more information.

 

BEWARE OF POST-IRMA FEMA RUMORS

Just like you have to beware of unlicensed and unscrupulous contractors in the wake of Hurricane Irma, you also have to beware of unsubstantiated and untrue information. Here are a few false rumors that the Federal Emergency Management Administration has heard circulating in the Keys:

RUMOR: Houses on stilts do not qualify for FEMA Insurance. FALSE: FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program covers a variety of elevated homes. To obtain a flood insurance policy from the NFIP, you need to live in a community that participates in the NFIP. Because several factors can determine eligibility of a structure, the best way to know whether your home qualifies for coverage is to consult your flood insurance agent. Regardless of whether you have coverage under NFIP, you can still apply for FEMA disaster assistance for free at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/.

• RUMOR: FEMA is paying  volunteers $700/day . FALSE: FEMA does not solicit volunteers to work on behalf of the agency, but rather hires and compensates qualified staff. In Florida, FEMA is hiring local employees to assist with disaster recovery. Go to the website www.employflorida.com to apply.

RUMOR: FEMA’s Disaster Assistance Survivor Teams are going door-to-door handing out $500 checks. FALSE: FEMA’s Disaster Assistance Survivor Teams are going door-to-door to register survivors for disaster assistance (www.disasterassistance.gov). They offer this assistance in a variety of languages. Our Disaster Assistance Survivor Teams do not hand out checks nor do they carry cash.