Personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration will continue to be available to Mississippi applicants who have needs not met by insurance settlements and other unmet storm- and flood-related needs. The deadline to register for assistance passed Monday.
Storm victims can still get information and answers to disaster-related questions by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 including Video Relay Service (VRS) calls (TTY users call 800-462-7585). The toll-free FEMA Helpline is open every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Multilingual operators are available. Help and information is also available at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property, offering low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters.
Homeowners, renters and business owners who have applied for a low-interest loan from the SBA can get answers and information from SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (TTY800-877-8339). SBA loan applicants can also get information by emailing email@example.com or by visiting www.sba.gov/disaster.
Here are some tips for those recovering from the tornado and storms:
• How to check the status of a FEMA application. Applicants can check the status of an application online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.
• How to appeal an “ineligible” determination from FEMA. Those who disagree with FEMA’s decision may submit an appeal within 60 days of the date of their determination letter. Make sure the nine-digitFEMA registration number and disaster number “DR4536-MS” is on all documents. Include copies of verifiable supplemental documents to support the appeal. Send the appeal material:
- Mail appeal to FEMA Appeals Officer, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055.
- - Upload appeal to DisasterAssistance.gov
- - Fax appeal to 800-827-8112 (Attn: FEMA)
• How to get more money than FEMA provided for home repairs. FEMA assistance is limited to emergency home repairs that make a home habitable and for temporary housing when the home in not habitable. Those who disagree with FEMA’s decision may submit a written appeal.
• How to find an attorney to help with disaster related legal services. Free legal services are available to Mississippi storm and flood survivors who need a lawyer for disaster-related matters. Call 877-691-6185 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. This free disaster legal assistance to individuals is provided by the Young Lawyers Division Disaster Legal Services Committee of the Mississippi Bar Association in conjunction with FEMA.
• How to get FEMA assistance for those whose house is insured. Storm victims who applied for help from FEMA because insurance did not cover all their disaster-related needs must write a letter to FEMA explaining their situation and include a copy of a settlement or denial letter from their insurance company. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance coverage.
• How to get FEMA help for people whose insurance settlement is delayed. For storm victims waiting on a decision on their insurance settlement and it’s been delayed longer than 30 days from the time of filing, they may be eligible for an advance on theirinsurance payment from FEMA. These funds are considered a loan and must be repaid to FEMA once their settlement is received from the insurance company. Contact FEMA for a “Request for Advancement” letter. FEMA will send a Request and Signature letter. This letter must be completed and returned before FEMA can evaluate the request for assistance.
• Flood insurance vs. homeowner’s insurance. Standard homeowner’s insurance doesn't cover flooding. To buy a flood insurance policy, Mississippi survivors should call their insurance agent or company. For more information about flood insurance for homeowners and renters or to find a National Flood Insurance Program agent serving their area, call 800-621-3362 and ask for the NFIP Call Center.
• Be aware of scams. Storm victims shouldn’t let their guard down and suffer another disaster such as identity theft or paying fees for services that are never provided. FEMA does not charge for services nor does it endorse any contractors. Use local contractors with reliable references and require proof of insurance. Anyone who suspects fraud should call the Mississippi State Board of Contractors at 800-880-6161.
• Salvage damaged family treasures. Damaged family heirlooms, photos and other keepsakes can be among the most heartbreaking discoveries following a major disaster. While some objects can only be rescued with professional care, storm victims can download a free app recommended by the Smithsonian Institution. Search “ERS: Emergency Response and Salvage.”
• Dealing with disaster-related stress. Coping with the aftermath of a disaster can be difficult for anyone. Suspect stress in children who may complain of stomachaches, nervousness, trouble sleeping or experience bouts of anger. Find help at www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline.
• Volunteer resources may be available for unmet needs. Volunteer, faith- and community-based organizations often are available to fill gaps in recovery. FEMA encourages storm victims to contact these groups as they may be able to provide essential long-term recovery resources.
• Stay in touch. Applicants changing their address or phone number – even if only temporarily – should update that information with FEMA. Missing or erroneous information could result in delays getting a home inspection or in receiving assistance.
Visit the FEMA website at DisasterAssistance.gov to upload documents or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. When updating information, refer to the nine-digit number issued at registration. This number is on all correspondence from FEMA and is a key identifier in tracking assistance requests.
For more information about disaster recovery operations in Mississippi, visit https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4536