Hurricane Harvey was declared a disaster by the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP) on August 25, 2017. This is an important date when it comes to applying for the various types of disaster assistance. DAIP is a partner organization to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If you want to make sure that your location is part of the disaster area go to the Disaster Assistance website and enter your address.
When a disaster is declared FEMA can help.
Did you have to evacuate?
FEMA will help with you with your hotel bill if you had to leave your home or apartment. FEMA provides a list of eligible hotels on their Evacuee Hotel List site. If the hotel you are staying at is not on the list make sure you save your bills, FEMA may still reimburse you.
Do you rent an apartment or a house?
If you do and you had to find an alternative place to live FEMA can help you pay rent at a new place.
Do you rent your house?
If you rent your house and it was damaged and your tenants had to find a temporary place to live FEMA can help with your lost rental income.
Can FEMA help me repair my home?
Yes. If you are a homeowner or if you rent a home FEMA can help. Your first step is to apply for assistance. If you have insurance you should file a claim immediately with your insurance company. FEMA can assist with items not covered by your insurance.
What if my insurance isn’t enough to repair my home?
Depending on the damage to your home, your insurance may not be enough to repair everything. You should file a claim with your insurance company and use that as your primary source of funds to repair damage to and replace items in your home. You can also apply for assistance with FEMA. If you exhaust your insurance and still have damage to repair you can contact FEMA and provide the details in writing. Make sure you keep all of the settlement documentation from your insurance company as FEMA will want to review what was repaired and covered by your policy and what is left to be done.
In some cases if there is a delay in receiving a settlement from your insurance company, FEMA may advance funds to you to get started on your repairs. That is why it is important to apply for FEMA assistance now. Any money advanced to you from FEMA will have to be repaid once you receive your settlement.
I’ve applied for FEMA assistance, what happens next?
Schedule an inspection. Within 10 days after submitting your application FEMA will contact you to schedule a home inspection.
Home inspection. When FEMA arrives the first thing you should do is ask the inspector for their FEMA ID. The inspectors are contractors and not FEMA employees BUT all inspectors will have a FEMA ID. If the inspector doesn’t have this ID it might be a scam. The inspection will focus on:
- Assessing the damage based on the items listed on your application;
- Checking out the structural damage to your home;
- Documenting damages by taking photos;
- Inspecting items such as washers, dryers, refrigerator, stove and others;
- Reviewing lost or destroyed clothing, apparel and children’s items.
The inspector will not make a decision regarding your claim during the inspection. Their job is to gather information and document the damage to support your application for assistance.
Verify Ownership or Occupancy. The inspector will need to see some documentation:
- Photo identification of the person(s) at your home during the inspection;
- If you are a homeowner provide a deed, mortgage documentation, real property insurance policy or a property tax or tax bill;
- If you occupied the home at the time of the disaster provide a utility bill with your name, credit card bill with your name and address or driver’s license showing the address of the home;
- List of residents living at the home during the disaster;
Determination of Assistance. Once FEMA has been given the inspection report and supporting documentation a decision will be made on your request for assistance:
- If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will send the grant money by check or direct deposit along with a letter explaining how the money should be spent;
- If you do not quality, FEMA will send a letter of explanation and provide information on how you can appeal the decision.
It is important that you act quickly and apply for assistance. If you have any questions regarding FEMA assistance or your insurance claim you can always contact Michael Fleming for free advice or call 713-221-6800.