In the aftermath of Harvey, there is a lot of uncertainty about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (better known to most as FEMA) and how it can provide assistance to those whose homes were affected by the flooding. We’re here to help clear up some of the confusion by answering some frequently asked questions and supplying resources.
But the bottom line is, if your home was affected by the flooding, you should apply for assistance from FEMA immediately.
If you need a computer to apply, you’re welcome to use the computers at our Heights office at 833 Studewood during our normal business hours of M-F 8-5:30 and S-S 10-5 or you can stop by the Harvey Relief Hub at Summer Street Studios at 2500 Summer St. from 8-6 through next Friday, September 8.
How do I apply for assistance from FEMA?
Visit DisasterAssistance.gov to apply for assistance online. If you experience difficulty applying online, you may also call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585 to apply during standard hours of operation (6 AM to 10 PM), 7 days a week. After you have applied, you can check your application status at DisasterAssistance.gov too. Survivors have 60-days from the date of a declaration for Individual Assistance to apply for assistance.
What will I need when applying for assistance from FEMA?
- Social Security Number
- Address of the location where the damage occurred (pre-disaster address)
- Current mailing address
- Current telephone number
- Insurance Information
- Total household annual income
- Routing and account number for your checking or savings account. (this allows FEMA to directly transfer disaster assistance funds into your bank account)
- A description of your disaster caused damages and losses.
How does my home qualify as eligible?
- The home must be the applicant’s primary residence.
- The home must have been destroyed, become uninhabitable, or be inaccessible as a result of the disaster.
- The insurance covering the dwelling does not fully cover applicant’s additional living expense and/or home repairs.
- You must meet basic eligibility criteria for FEMA programs.
- You can find in-depth details here, but to simplify things, you must be a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National, or a Qualified Alien in order to be eligible for FEMA cash assistance programs.
Can I get assistance from FEMA if I have homeowners insurance?
Yes. FEMA provides housing assistance to individuals and families who have lost their homes as a result of a presidentially-declared disaster. If you are a renter or homeowner you may qualify for assistance. By law, FEMA assistance cannot duplicate the assistance you receive from your insurance company, but you may receive assistance for items not covered by insurance. If your home was impacted by Harvey, we recommend that you apply for assistance.
Can I get assistance from FEMA if I have flood insurance?
Yes. FEMA disaster assistance may sometimes cover damages that flood insurance does not.
You must apply for disaster assistance directly with FEMA. Filing a flood insurance claim or meeting with your insurance agent does not register you with FEMA.
Once you have applied, you have 12 months to tell FEMA if your insurance coverage was sufficient and to be considered for FEMA disaster assistance. As with homeowners insurance, FEMA cannot provide money to individuals or households for losses that are covered by their flood insurance.
After filing a flood insurance claim, if any of the following situations occurs, FEMA may be able to provide some assistance:
- Your settlement was delayed longer than 30-days from the time you filed a claim.
- Your settlement doesn’t cover all of your disaster-related needs.
- You exhausted the additional living expenses provided by your insurance.
- You are unable to locate rental resources in your area.
What happens after I apply for assistance from FEMA?
- Home Inspection
- You will receive a call from FEMA within 10 days of submitting your application to schedule an appointment for a home inspector to visit you. In the event of a catastrophic disaster like Harvey an inspector may take longer to visit you.
- After the Inspection
- If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will provide you:
- A check by mail or a direct deposit into your checking or savings account, and
- A letter describing how you are to use the money.
- If you do not qualify for a grant, FEMA will provide you:
- A letter explaining why you did not qualify, and
- An opportunity to appeal the decision.
- If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will provide you:
Can I add to my claim after the initial estimate is made?
Yes. “FEMA’s guidelines for delivering an estimate of damage to the flood policyholder is no longer than 45 days,” notes Maureen Westling, vice president of claims at Aon National Flood Services, a flood-insurance-policies provider based in Kalispell, Mont. But once work begins on your home, you’re entitled to add to your claim if you or your contractor discovers more damage or loss. “There’s nothing to prevent you from doing that even after the claim is closed,” Westling says. “You’ve signed that statement of loss to say, ‘At this time, to the best of my knowledge, this is correct.’ That doesn’t mean it can’t change.”
Does FEMA offer assistance with short-term housing?
Yes. Under FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) Under TSA, disaster survivors may be eligible to stay in hotel or motel lodging for a limited period of time and have the cost of the room and taxes covered by FEMA. However, FEMA does not cover the cost of incidental room charges or amenities, such as telephone, room service, food, etc.
For those who are eligible, FEMA will authorize and fund, through direct payments to participating hotels/motels, the use of hotels/motels as transitional shelters.
The initial period of assistance will be 5-14 days from date of TSA implementation. FEMA, in conjunction with the State, may extend this period of assistance, if needed.
Individuals and households who are ineligible for TSA will be referred to local agencies or voluntary organizations for possible assistance.
How do I know if I’m eligible for short-term housing?
- You register with FEMA for assistance.
- You pass identity verification.
- Your pre-disaster primary residence is located in a geographic area that is designated for TSA and occupancy is verified.
- As a result of the disaster, you are displaced from their pre-disaster residence and you are currently not living in your primary residence.
How do I make sure I’m eligible for hotel/motel repayment?
- Register with FEMA www.disasterassistance.gov for assistance.
- Once you are registered, keep all receipts.
- You may only use your Registration number for approved FEMA hotels listed on http://www.femaevachotels.com/.
- Use the following phone number to process hotel payments-800-621-3362.
Where can I find hotels/motels that qualify for FEMA’s TSA?
You should be checking the list frequently as it is updated whenever FEMA has new information. Texas Hotel & Lodging Associates is currently encouraging more hotels to sign up.
Reminder: Aside from hotels in the immediate Houston area, you may want to look for hotels in the following surrounding locations:
- College Station, TX
- Cypress, TX
- Shepard, TX
- Somerville, TX
- Tomball, TX
- Waller, TX
Can I change hotels at any time?
Yes. You may move to another hotel on the list as one opens up at any time. You just need to check out before you are charged for the day.
Are there other non-hotel accommodation options?
Yes. AirBnB is also offering free accommodations through their website and app.
It should be noted though that this is not a FEMA assistance program.
Did we miss any of your burning questions about FEMA? Just let us know, and we’ll be happy to get you answers!This entry was posted in Rediscover, Resources
- Aon National Flood Services
- disaster assistance
- fema assistance
- fema disaster assistance
- hurricane harvey
- Maureen Westling
- short-term housing
- transitional shelter assistance