U.S. Congressman LOUIE GOHMERT: Proudly Serving the First District of Texas



After Ike - Applying for FEMA Assistance

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Washington, September 14, 2008 | Kate Thompson ((202)225-3035) | comments
President Bush declared a major disaster for the State of Texas, triggering the release of Federal funds to help communities and individuals recover from Hurricane Ike beginning September 7, 2008, and continuing.
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President Bush declared a major disaster for the State of Texas, triggering the release of Federal funds to help communities and individuals recover from Hurricane Ike beginning September 7, 2008, and continuing.  If you live in the following counties of the First Congressional District, you qualify for Individual Assistance through FEMA: Angelina, Nacogdoches, Sabine, and San Augustine.

I traveled around east Texas yesterday and was up all night Friday helping where assistance was needed, even cutting away trees in the road with a chain saw. I personally saw the damage to other counties and feel strongly that additional areas should have been included in the individual assistance disaster declaration. We will be working to make sure that these counties who should be on the declaration are added.
If you require individual assistance, it is extremely important that you file a claim with FEMA. Their instructions below are very long and sound too governmental, but they need to be followed to file claims. If you follow these instructions and still do not get treated fairly, you can contact my office for help.

                                             With Kindest Regards,


How to Apply for Individual Assistance from FEMA:
    • Residents should return home as soon as it is SAFE and local officials allow access.
      o Individuals should take photos of the damage and begin clean up IMMEDIATELY, do not wait!
    • Register with FEMA in three ways: 
      1) Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) for Speech or Hearing Impaired 800-462-7585
      2) Register online at: www.fema.gov/assistance
      3) Visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) – These will be set up at the request of and in coordination with the State of Texas
    NOTE: Please provide the following information:
      • A phone number where FEMA can reach the individual
      • Social Security Number
      • Current Mailing Address
      • Address of the Damaged Home
      • Description of the damages
      • Insurance information including policy number

Registering with the Red Cross, Salvation Army and/or 2-1-1 is not the same as registering with FEMA!
   • An Inspector will be assigned to visit their home and review the damages/photos
   • An individual may receive an application from the Small Business Administration (SBA). We strongly encourage Applicants to complete and return this application even if they do not want a loan.  To not do this may short circuit the Applicant’s access to additional FEMA Funds.

Some Things to Remember When Registering:
- Due to the unprecedented numbers of individuals applying for disaster assistance, FEMA realizes that there  are some delays in  calls getting through, and in registering online, and FEMA is working daily to ensure that every eligible applicant gets registered.

- FEMA increased their capacity to take registrations over the phones, and they are daily working to increase the number of on-line registrations they are able to take.

- Keep in mind that you can register for assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so it may be important to call and go online at non-peak times (after 12:00 pm, and before 6:00 am).

- FEMA expects extremely high call volume the first few weeks following Hurricane Ike, and other ongoing disaster declarations other states.  Some callers will experience long delays and drops in calls.

- While FEMA realizes that many people need to register, they are encouraging individuals to wait a few days if their home was not severely impacted.  Additionally, residents that have homeowner’s and flood insurance are encouraged to first contact their insurance company prior to calling FEMA.

- FEMA encourages applicants who can to register online at www.fema.gov/assistance.  However, please bear in mind that the online system may sometimes experiences delays due to the large number of registrants.

- Only one family member per household should register.

Individuals may check the status of their application by phone or online:
1. Dial 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
2. Go to http://www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm, follow Step 3

You must have an email address to create your account access. Your e-mail address is the only way a PIN can be sent to you; the PIN is required to access your personal account. You may wish to consider creating an email address through one of the numerous public providers.  The PIN will be created and sent to the e-mail address provided when you created your application access account.  You should receive your PIN at the email address listed on your account creation within 24 hours. You will need to have the following information create the account: Title, First and last name, Address, Contact phone number, Email address, Date of birth, Mother's maiden name, Social Security Number  (Note: To access your FEMA application, the name, address, and personal information must be the same as that used to register for disaster assistance.)

You will be able to see your:
     • Eligibility status by category
     • Payment schedule date and amount of eligible assistance (if applicable)
     • Addresses and phone numbers currently in your file
     • Insurance types, policy numbers
     • Contact numbers on record
     • Information requested from you by FEMA
     • Correspondence received from you (the document itself will not be viewable)
     • Correspondence sent to you by FEMA (the document itself will not be viewable)
     • Agency referrals (all agency referrals for the disaster will be viewable)
     • The status of any inspections conducted by FEMA (details of the inspection are not viewable)

For more information, and a list of frequently asked questions visit: http://www.fema.gov/assistance/dafaq.shtm

About Assistance to Individuals and Households:
The Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides financial help or direct services to those who have necessary expenses and serious needs if they are unable to meet the needs through other means.  Up to $28,800 is available in financial help (adjusted each year), although some forms of IHP assistance have limits.  Flood insurance may be required as indicated below.  These forms of help are available:  Housing Assistance (including Temporary Housing, Repair, Replacement, and Semi-Permanent or Permanent Housing Construction) and Other Needs Assistance (including personal property and other items).

Housing Assistance
Temporary Housing:  Money to rent a different place to live or a temporary housing unit (when rental properties are not available).
Repair:  Money for homeowners to repair damage from the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to repair the home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition.  FEMA may provide up to $28,800 for home repair; then the homeowner may apply for a Small Business Administration disaster loan for additional repair assistance.  FEMA will not pay to return a home to its condition before the disaster. Flood insurance may be required if the home is in a Special Flood Hazard Area.  Repair and replacement items include:
     •Structural parts of a home (foundation, outside walls, roof)
     •Windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, cabinetry
     •Septic or sewage system
     •Well or other water system
     •Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system
     •Utilities (electrical, plumbing, and gas systems)
     •Entrance and exit ways from the home, including privately owned access roads
     •Blocking, leveling and anchoring of a mobile home and reconnecting or resetting its sewer, water, electrical and fuel lines and tanks

Replacement:  Money to replace a disaster-damaged home, under rare conditions, if this can be done with limited funds.  FEMA may provide up to $28,800 for home replacement.  If the home is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area, the homeowner must comply with flood insurance purchase requirements and local flood codes and requirements.

Semi-Permanent or Permanent Housing Construction:  Direct assistance or money for the construction of a home. This type of assistance occurs only in very unusual situations, in locations specified by FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible.  Construction shall follow current minimal local building codes and standards where they exist, or minimal acceptable construction industry standards in the area.  Construction will aim toward average quality, size, and capacity, taking into consideration the needs of the occupant.  If the home is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area, the homeowner must comply with flood insurance purchase requirements and local flood codes and requirements.

Other Needs Assistance
Other Needs Assistance provision of the Individuals and Households Program provides grants for uninsured, disaster-related necessary expenses and serious needs.  Flood insurance may be required on insurable items (personal property) if they are to be located in a Special Flood Hazard Area.  Assistance includes:
     •Medical and dental expenses
     •Funeral and burial costs
     •Repair, cleaning, or replacement of:
     •Household items (room furnishings, appliances)
     •Specialized tools or protective clothing and equipment required for your job
     •Necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies)
     •Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, air purifier, dehumidifier)
     •Fuel (fuel, chain saw, firewood)
     •Repairing or replacing vehicles damaged by the disaster, or providing for public transportation or other  transportation costs
     •Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster (including evacuation, storage, or the return of property to a home)
     •Other necessary expenses or serious needs (for example, towing, or setup or connecting essential utilities for a housing unit not provided by FEMA)
     •The cost of a National Flood Insurance Program group flood insurance policy to meet the flood insurance requirements

Conditions and Limitations of IHP Assistance
Non-discrimination:  All forms of FEMA disaster housing assistance are available to any affected household that meets the conditions of eligibility.  No Federal entity or official (or their agent) may discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, or economic status.
Residency status in the United States and its territories:  To be considered for disaster housing assistance, you or a household member must provide proof of identity and sign a declaration stating that you/they are a United States citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.

Supplemental Assistance:  Disaster housing assistance is not intended to substitute for private recovery efforts, but to complement those efforts when needed.  FEMA expects minor housing damage or the need for short-term shelter to be addressed by homeowners or tenants.  Furthermore, the Disaster Housing Program is not a loss indemnification program and does not ensure that applicants are returned to their pre-disaster living conditions.

Household Composition:  People living together in one residence before the disaster are expected to continue to live together after the disaster.  Generally, assistance is provided to the pre-disaster household as a unit.  If, however, the assistance provided to the household is not shared with you, or if the new residence is too small or causes you undue hardship, you may request assistance separate from your pre-disaster household.
Type of Assistance:  Generally, more than one type of IHP assistance may be provided to the household.  Only FEMA has the authority to determine which type of assistance is most appropriate for the household and the period of assistance to be covered.

Proper Use of Assistance:  All financial assistance provided by FEMA should be used as specified in writing: to rent another place to live, to make the home repairs identified by FEMA, or to prevent eviction or foreclosure, or to replace or repair personal property. Failure to use the money as specified may make you ineligible for additional assistance.  All money provided by FEMA is tax-free.

Documentation:  It is your responsibility to provide all documentation necessary for FEMA to evaluate your eligibility. You may need to provide proof of occupancy, ownership, income loss, and/or information concerning your housing situation prior to the disaster.  You should keep all receipts and records for any housing expenses incurred as a result of the disaster.  This includes receipts for repair supplies, labor, and rent payments.
Insurance:  If you have insurance, any assistance provided by FEMA should be considered an advance and must be repaid to FEMA when you receive your insurance settlement payment.  If your settlement is less than FEMA’s estimated cost to make your home habitable, you may qualify for funds to supplement your insurance settlement, but only for repairs relating to the home’s habitability.  FEMA does not provide replacement value amounts or assistance with non-essential items.

Duration of Assistance:  Repair and Replacement Assistance is provided as a one-time payment.  Temporary Housing Assistance (or a mobile home/travel trailer) is provided for an initial period of 1, 2, or 3 months.  To be considered for additional assistance, you must demonstrate that you have spent any previous assistance from FEMA as instructed, and you must demonstrate your efforts to re-establish permanent housing.  Additional assistance is generally provided for 1, 2, or 3 months at a time.  The maximum period for IHP assistance is 18 months, unless extended by the President.

Appeal Rights:  If you disagree with FEMA's determination of eligibility or the form of assistance provided, you have the right to appeal within 60 days of the date of your notification letter.  Send appeal letters to: Appeals Officer, FEMA- Individuals & Households Program, National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055.  Telephone: 1-800-621-FEMA or TTY 1-800-462-7585.


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