By now you’ve seen the daunting images of the destruction from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and from Hurricane Irma in Florida: roof tiles blown away, waist-level flood waters, wooden debris scattered for miles, and soggy or molding furniture. If you or a loved one has experienced this kind of damage to your home or property, there may be money available to assist you.
FEMA Housing Assistance
The FEMA Individuals and Households Program (IHP) is a grant eligible to American citizens (and eligible non-citizens) that may cover all or part of temporary housing while you and your family relocate. If you don’t have insurance or if your insurance won’t cover the full costs of the damage, grant money to is also available to repair or replace your existing home.
Other Needs – Childcare, Medical, etc.
If you have other needs aside from housing—including childcare, medical or dental expenses, transportation, or funeral/burial costs—the same FEMA grant may be able to help you. The FEMA Individuals and Households Program provides for these kinds of expenses through Other Needs Assistance (ONA).
In some cases when you contact FEMA, FEMA may refer you to other programs that provide similar kinds of assistance. They’re worth knowing about. For example, the government’s U.S. Small Business Administration offers low-interest loans for up to $200,000 to repair or replace your home, or for other disaster-related expenses you can incur. The SBA can also help you by refinancing all or part of your mortgage. You do not need to own a business to be eligible.
What to Do
You can research what types of aid you are eligible for by going to DisasterAssistance.gov and answering some questions about your location and situation. You can also visit FEMA directly for directions on how to apply for grants: https://www.fema.gov/apply-assistance.
Then, you will need to gather all the documentation that FEMA or DisasterAssistance.gov will need in order to verify the information you provide. Things you will need:
- Social security number
- Address of the location where the damage occurred (and directions if an assessor needs to inspect the location in person)
- Insurance Information
- Contact information such as current mailing address and telephone number
- A list of lost or damaged items, with full descriptions
In the end, recovering your losses after a disaster can be a long and difficult process. Make sure you know about all the organizations that exist to help you – in addition to the government, national NGOs like the Red Cross or local non-profits provide assistance during crises like these. Hopefully, with multiple organizations working to confront these disasters and mitigate your losses, you’ll be able to make a full recovery.