Route 2

The Following Will Be Covered Along Route 2:

Now that you’ve charted your course by selecting a route, you’ll need to identify your most trusted travel companions. In this section of the website, we will identify a few of the major helpers you will meet as you make your stops along the road. Some of the names will be familiar; while others may not — but there are lots of folks out there who would like to help you get your life back to normal. So come along and get connected to your assistance Crew!

FEMA: “What’s In It for You?”

FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It was created specifically to provide financial and other recovery assistance when disaster strikes. One of the very first stops along the road to housing recovery should be to check out the assistance that may be available through this government agency. This section of the guide provides basic information about FEMA assistance that may be available to you. Visit the FEMA website, www.fema.gov/sandy for additional information and helpful links to disaster recovery resources.

Recognizing that government alone cannot adequately respond to all of the challenges posed by a catastrophic event, FEMA employs a “Whole Community” approach to emergency management. Whole Community leverages other federal resources, state, local and tribal partners, as well as nonprofit and faith-based groups, to serve disaster survivors.

FEMA directly assists individuals and families who lived in a county designated by the President as a disaster area and whose property losses are not fully covered by insurance. This is not to say that FEMA will do nothing for you if you had insurance. Later on, we will discuss how FEMA may help you even if you had some insurance coverage. But disaster assistance is not meant to supplement insurance coverage. The program is intended to assist you in meeting post-disaster expenses that cannot be covered by any other means. The maximum award under the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) is $31,900.

There are deadlines for registering with FEMA. Visit the website for registration deadline dates. If you have already registered with FEMA or applied for FEMA assistance and received funding, feel free to bypass this pit stop and take the fast lane to the next section “State Programs

What Does FEMA Offer?

Housing Needs Assistance

FEMA may provide you with one or more of the following forms of financial assistance for housing:

  • Temporary Housing: Financial Assistance is available to rent a different place to live, or to obtain a government-provided housing unit (such as a trailer).
  • Repair: Financial Assistance is available to homeowners to repair uninsured damages from the disaster to their primary residence. The goal is to make the damaged home safe, sanitary, and functional.
  • Replacement: Financial Assistance is available to homeowners to replace their home destroyed in the disaster. The goal is to help homeowners with the cost of replacing their destroyed homes.
Other Needs

In addition to the housing-related assistance, FEMA makes money available for necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster. This includes everything on the following list:

  • Disaster-related medical and dental costs
  • Disaster-related funeral and burial costs
  • Clothing; household items (room furnishings, appliances); tools required for your job (specialized or protective clothing and equipment); necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies)
  • Fuels for primary heat source (heating oil, gas)
  • Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier)
  • Assistance with transportation, disaster-damaged vehicles
  • Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster (moving and storing property to avoid additional disaster damage while disaster-related repairs are being made to the home)
  • Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA
  • Other expenses that are authorized by law Permanent Housing Construction: Sometimes FEMA will fund construction of a new home. This type of help is available only in certain remote locations specified by FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible. 

Am I Eligible for FEMA Assistance?

Before you apply for these FEMA programs, you should check to make sure that you meet the following requirements:

Eligibility for Housing Needs Assistance

The FEMA Housing Portal (http://asd.fema.gov/inter/hportal/home.htm) helps individuals and families who have been displaced by a disaster identify a place to live.

FEMA requires that you meet all of the following criteria in order to be eligible for Housing Needs Assistance:

  • You have losses in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the President.
  • You have filed for insurance benefits and the damage to your property is not covered by your insurance, or your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your losses.
  • You or someone who lives with you is a citizen of the United States, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
  • You have a valid Social Security number.
  • The home in the disaster area is where you usually live and where you were living at the time of the disaster.
  • You are not able to live in your home now; you cannot get to your home due to the disaster; or your home requires repairs because of damage from the disaster.
  • You may not be eligible for Housing Needs assistance if:
  • You have other rent-free housing that is adequate for your needs and that you can use (for example, rental property you own that is not occupied).
  • Your damaged home is your secondary or vacation residence.
  • Your expenses resulted only from leaving your home as a precaution, and you were able to return to your home immediately after the incident.
  • You have refused assistance from your insurance provider(s).
  • Your only losses are business related (including self-employment losses and farm business losses — other than the farmhouse) or items not covered by this program.
  • The damaged home where you live is located in a designated flood hazard area and your community is not participating in the National Flood Insurance Program. In this case, the flood damage to your home would not be covered. However, you may qualify for rental assistance for items not covered by flood insurance, such as water wells, septic systems, etc. (For more details, see www.fema.gov/do-I-qualify-assistance.)
Eligibility for Assistance with Other Needs

To receive money for other needs that are the result of a disaster — but are not related to housing — all the following must be true:
  • You have losses in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the President.
  • You filed for insurance benefits, but the damage to your property is not covered by your insurance or your insurance settlement is not adequate to cover your losses.
  • You or someone who lives with you is a citizen of the United States, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
  • You have necessary expenses or serious needs because of the disaster.

You have accepted assistance from all other sources for which you are eligible, such as insurance proceeds or Small Business Administration disaster loans.

Alert: Bypass to Insurance? -You may want to fast forward to the Insurance Section, which provides detailed information about how to file an insurance claim.

Alert: Have Insurance? Help from FEMA - If any of the scenarios above describe your particular situation, you can contact FEMA for additional help. You will have up to 12 months from the date you register with FEMA to submit your insurance information for review. Remember that any funds issued to you from FEMA that are eventually paid through your insurance company will have to be repaid to FEMA. According to federal law, FEMA cannot provide money to individuals or households for losses that are covered by insurance.

Disaster Assistance for Those with Insurance Coverage

There are some circumstances where you may be able to receive help from FEMA even if you do have insurance coverage. However, it is essential that you have already contacted your insurance agent and filed a claim. If you have not done this already, you will need to do it as soon as possible. Failing to file an insurance claim will make you unable to register for FEMA assistance.

Assuming that you have already filed a claim with your insurance company, let’s look at some of the situations where FEMA may still be able to provide you with assistance:

  • Your insurance settlement is delayed. In technical terms, “delayed” means a decision on your insurance settlement has taken longer than 30 days from the time you filed the claim. If this is what has happened to you, write a letter to FEMA at: Federal Emergency Management Agency, PO Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782; explaining the circumstances. In your letter, include documentation from the insurance company proving that you filed the claim. If you filed your claim over the telephone, you should include the claim number, the date when you applied, and the estimated length of time it will take for you to receive your settlement. Remember, though, that any help awarded to you by FEMA would be considered an advance — it must be repaid to FEMA once you receive your insurance settlement.
  • Your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your disaster-related needs. If you have received the maximum settlement from your insurance and still have an unmet disaster-related need, write a letter to FEMA explaining that unmet disaster-related need. Include related paperwork from your insurance company for FEMA’s review.
  • You have exhausted the Additional Living Expenses (ALE) provided by your insurance company. If you have received the maximum settlement from your insurance for Additional Living Expenses (ALE) and still need help with your disaster-related temporary housing need, write a letter to FEMA explaining why you still need help. You will also need to provide documentation to prove you had and used ALE assistance from your insurance company, and include a plan for future permanent housing.
  • You are unable to locate rental resources in your area. The FEMA Helpline has a list of rental resources in the disaster area. If no resources are available in your county, the Helpline agent will try to provide you with resources in an adjacent county. Call the Helpline at (800) 621-FEMA (or 3362). For TTY service, call (800) 462-7585.

Applying for FEMA Assistance

The FEMA website (www.fema.gov/apply-assistance) has an easy, three-step approach for answering your questions about the application process:

1. Before You Apply

  • What is disaster assistance? What items are covered by disaster assistance?
  • What are my rights?
  • Do I qualify for assistance?
  • How can I locate a Disaster Recovery Center?
  • What information do I need to apply? (See below)

2.Ways to Apply

  • Apply by phone: .
  • Call 800-621-FEMA (3362). .
  • Call TTY 800-462-7585 for people with speech or hearing disabilities.
  • Apply online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov
  • Apply by smartphone at m.fema.gov

3. After You Apply

  • Check the status of your application.
  • I’m registered with FEMA. What do I do next?
  • My address or phone number has changed. How do I alert FEMA?
  • I was denied assistance. Is there an appeal process?
  • How can FEMA help me manage my long term needs?
  • I received FEMA assistance. What do I need to know?
  • You can follow this process via the Web or by phone. On the Web, go to www.fema.gov/applyassistance. By phone, contact FEMA Disaster Assistance at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or for TTY services, 800-462-7585.
  • When you contact FEMA, you will need to have the following information:
  • Five digit Zip Code
  • Current contact telephone number
  • Social Security number
  • Current mailing address and address of damaged property
  • Date the damage occurred
  • Directions to the property
  • Brief description of damaged property
  • Insurance information and policy number(s)
  • Gross family income
  • A bank routing number (So FEMA can deposit funds directly to your bank account).

Disaster Recovery Centers

FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers are accessible facilities or mobile offices where applicants can go for information about FEMA or disaster assistance. Specific services may include:

  • Clarification of FEMA correspondence
  • Housing assistance and rental resource information
  • Status information on FEMA claims and applications
  • SBA program information
  • General guidance regarding disaster recovery in various states have numerous Disaster Recovery Centers located throughout the affected areas. Search for one near you at www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by texting “DRC” and your zip code to 43362 or 4FEMA (standard rates apply).

Flood Insurance Requirements

When property owners receive financial assistance from the Federal Government following a disaster declaration, they may be required to purchase flood insurance coverage. Renters also need to carry flood insurance to protect against losses resulting from floods.

Flood Zones and Flood Maps

Flood zones are areas identified by FEMA for use in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). These zones indicate how likely an area is to flood. If you live in one of the areas most likely to flood — the A and V zones — you will be required to purchase flood insurance for your home. In addition, the maps provide information about your home’s “Base Flood Elevation.” This measure determines whether or not you may need to elevate your home.

The official flood zone maps can be found on the FEMA website. If you would like to speak to a local expert to examine the maps, contact your local planning, engineering, or public works department.

Reading a Flood Map

The codes on the map can tell you whether an area is likely to flood and how high a home in that area should be elevated to avoid flood damage. A and V zones are both below “Base Flood Elevation” and are likely enough to flood that flood insurance is required. The letters are followed by numbers that show just how likely the area is to flood. The higher the number following the A or V the more likely a property is to flood. (It is better to be in A1 than A30.) B, C, and X zones are considered unlikely to flood because of their elevation, drainage, or levee protection. If you live in a B, C or X zone, you are not required to carry flood insurance, but remember that while you are not required to carry flood insurance on properties located in these zones, any losses you incur that result from a flood can be covered only through the NFIP.

What the Flood Maps Mean to You

The flood zones can guide your rebuilding. They may determine whether you can rebuild, whether you can get certain kinds of assistance, and whether you will need to elevate your home. Following a disaster, FEMA may revise flood maps. Be sure to reference the most recent flood map and insurance requirements before taking steps to rebuild or repair your home. For more information, visit http://rfcd.pima.gov/dfirm/pdfs/femafaq.pdf.

Damaged Structures At or Above Flood Elevation:

If your home is at or above the required flood elevation based on a flood zone map or a certified elevation survey, you can immediately begin to repair or rebuild, regardless of how much damage your home received. Low-interest SBA loans are available from FEMA based on the actual cost of repairing or rebuilding a flood-damaged home and personal property, minus any insurance reimbursement.

Current loan limits are:

  • Homeowners — Up to $200,000 to repair or rebuild a primary residence to its condition before the disaster.
  • Homeowners and renters — Up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property, such as clothing, furniture, and automobiles.
Damaged Structures Below Flood Elevation:

If your home flooded and you are not at the required flood elevation based on flood zone or a certified elevation survey, your home could fall into one of two categories:

  • Minor damage — If the structure sustained flooding, but was not substantially damaged, repairs can be made simply by getting the necessary permits over the counter or online. You will not need a new elevation certificate.
  • Substantially damaged — If the structure was substantially damaged (50% or more of the replacement value prior to the flood event), you will be required to elevate the building to the current flood elevation. This is for your own safety. If you carry flood insurance, contact your insurance carrier for information on deductibles and limits.

Do I Need to Elevate My Home?

If a flood damages your property, you may be required by law to bring your home up to community and/or state floodplain management standards. If you have NFIP insurance, and your home has been declared substantially damaged by your community, Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage is provided to cover up to $30,000 of the cost to elevate, flood proof, demolish, or relocate your property. ICC coverage is in addition to the coverage you receive to repair flood damages; however, the total payout on a policy may not exceed $250,000 for residential buildings and $500,000 for non-residential buildings.

For more information please visit www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program-2/ increased-cost-compliance-coverage.

State assistance programs may also be available; see your state’s Resource Guide in Route 4.

Caution: Environmental Issues In addition to flood conditions, you also need to be aware of the environmental problem of toxic soil that may be a result of prolonged flooding. You need to consider how these problems are dealt with in the local building codes or other requirements related to rebuilding or repairing a home.