After the severe storms and flooding that occurred in Missouri between December 23, 2015 and January 9, 2016, residents in the 33 declared counties became eligible for federal assistance. People who suffered losses and damage in the wake of the disaster are urged to seek help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The eligible counties are Barry, Barton, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cole, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Jefferson, Laclede, Lawrence, Lincoln, Maries, McDonald, Morgan, Newton, Osage, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Scott, St. Charles, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster and Wright.
There are many misconceptions about getting help from FEMA. Often, people who would qualify for assistance miss out on assistance because they don’t have access to correct information.
Commonly asked questions about disaster aid from FEMA:
Q: Who should apply for federal disaster assistance?
A: Missouri homeowners and renters in disaster-designated counties who sustained damage to their homes, vehicles or personal property as a result of the severe storms and flooding from December 23, 2015 through January 9, 2016 can apply for FEMA grants.
Q: How do I apply?
A: Residents who were affected can apply for assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 800-621-3362. The application deadline is March 21.
Q: What kinds of FEMA grants are available?
A: Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses and medical, dental and funeral expenses caused by the disaster, along with other serious disaster-related expenses.
Q: What happens after I register?
A: You will receive a phone call from a FEMA inspector to arrange for a survey of the damages. This will come just days after you register. All FEMA inspectors will have official identification. They do not approve or deny claims or requests; those come after the inspection results are submitted. FEMA inspectors do not ask for money and do not recommend contractors to make repairs.
Q. I’ve already cleaned up and made repairs to my property. Am I still eligible to register with FEMA?
A. Yes. You may be eligible for reimbursement of your clean-up and repair expenses. Before and after photos of the damaged property can help expedite your application for assistance.
Q: Does my income need to be under a certain dollar amount to qualify for disaster aid?
A: FEMA’s Housing Assistance program is available, regardless of income, to anyone who suffered damages or losses in disaster-declared counties. However, aid for other losses such as personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses is income-dependent and officials make decisions on a case-by-case basis. To be considered for a grant for these types of losses, the applicant must complete an application for an SBA loan.
Q. I have flood insurance. Should I still register with FEMA?
A. Yes. But please contact your insurance company first.
Q: Does the Small Business Administration (SBA) offer loans to homeowners and renters?
A: Yes. The SBA is the primary source of financial assistance following a disaster and provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and renters.
Q: Do I have to be turned down by my bank before I can apply for a disaster loan?
A: No. The SBA has its own criteria for determining each loan applicant’s eligibility.
Q: If I rent an apartment, can I get help to replace my damaged personal property?
A: Yes. Renters may qualify for a FEMA grant. Renters may also qualify for SBA disaster loans.
Q: Will FEMA pay for all home repairs or contract work?
A: No. FEMA does not pay to return your home to its pre-disaster condition. FEMA provides grants to qualified homeowners to repair damage not covered by insurance, but these grants may not pay for all the damage. However, an SBA disaster loan may return a home to its pre-disaster condition.
Q: Do I have to repay money I receive for disaster relief?
A: No. You do not have to repay grant money, however SBA disaster loans must be repaid.
Q: Do I have to be a legal U.S. resident to receive Individual Assistance?
A: No. If you have a child living at home who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien, you may apply for Individual Assistance on that child’s behalf and you may be eligible to receive Individual Assistance. FEMA may provide undocumented, eligible immigrants with short-term, non-cash emergency aid.
Q: How can I check the status of my case?
A: You may go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call the toll-free FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. If you need face-to-face assistance, visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) or speak with someone from one of FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) teams currently going door-to-door in Missouri’s disaster-declared counties. All DRCs are accessible and equipped with tools to accommodate disaster survivors who need disability related communication aids.
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