Homeowners and renters in four South Carolina counties with uninsured and underinsured losses caused by Hurricane Florence need to know what to expect when they apply for assistance with FEMA.
Hurricane Florence survivors in the designated counties will need the following to apply for assistance
* Social Security Number;
* Daytime telephone number;
* Current mailing address and address and ZIP Code of the damaged property; and
* Insurance information, if available.
To check eligibility for federal, state and voluntary agency disaster assistance survivors can visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 (800-462-7785 TTY). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).
After registering with FEMA, a survivor may be contacted by a FEMA-contracted housing inspector to schedule an inspection to verify disaster-related damage. The inspection generally takes about 20-40 minutes. The inspector will want to see the damaged areas of the home and any damaged furniture and personal property. There is no fee for the inspection.
If the home was found to be inaccessible at the time of inspection, the applicant is required to let FEMA know when the home is accessible and request a new inspection. To update the status of an uninhabitable dwelling applicants should call the disaster assistance Helpline at 800-621-3362. Once the status of the home is updated and the survivor has requested a new inspection, a FEMA-contracted inspector will contact the applicant to schedule the inspection.
On the day of the inspection, applicants should ask the inspector to show a FEMA photo ID badge. If an inspector refuses to show FEMA photo identification, do not allow the inspection. Disasters often bring out scam artists who prey on the needs of disaster survivors.
Someone 18 years of age or older must be present during the inspection. The inspector will also ask to see:
* Photo identification;
* Proof of ownership/occupancy of damaged residence (tax bill, mortgage payment book, rental agreement or utility bill);
* Insurance documents (homeowner’s or renter’s insurance and/or an auto insurance policy summary);
* List of people living in the residence at the time of disaster; and
* All disaster-related damages to both real and personal property.
Once the inspection process is complete, FEMA will review the case and send a letter to the applicant outlining a decision.
If an applicant is eligible for a FEMA assistance, FEMA will send funds via check by mail or direct deposit into the survivor’s bank account. If a survivor receives money for rental assistance, the survivor must keep documentation and receipts of payments made and have a written landlord/tenant agreement for the time frame for which assistance is provided.
If an applicant is not eligible for FEMA assistance, FEMA will send a letter explaining why the applicant was determined ineligible. The applicant should read this letter carefully. Many times ineligibility is due to FEMA not having important information, such as an insurance settlement letter, proof of ownership or proof of occupancy. Applicants have 60 days to appeal a FEMA decision. The appeal process is detailed in the letter.
After registering for disaster assistance, survivors may be asked to fill out a low-interest disaster loan application with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA offers low-interest disaster loans for businesses and nonprofit organizations of all sizes, homeowners and renters. Completing a home loan application makes it possible to be considered for additional assistance. Applicants do not have to accept the loan if they qualify.
SBA applicants may apply online at DisasterLoan.sba.gov. Information about low-interest SBA disaster loans and application forms are available online at SBA.gov/disaster or by calling 800-659-2955 (TTY users call 800-877-8339) or via email to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. Call SBA at 800-659-2955 to have an application mailed to you.
FEMA assistance may include help to pay for: temporary housing, emergency home repairs and rental assistance; medical, dental and funeral expenses; essential personal property; or miscellaneous immediate need items.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is unable to duplicate insurance payments. However, those without insurance or those who may be underinsured may still receive help after their insurance claims have been settled.