In the days and months following April's deadly tornadoes, many well need help to get back on the road to recovery.
Help for many may come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. There are questions surrounding the filing process and eligibility.
FEMA Spokesman, Don Bolger, answered some commonly asked questions.
- Do I have to own my home or mobile home to be eligible for FEMA? That's a fact.
"If you are a homeowner, regardless of what that home is and you sustain damage from these tornadoes or these storms, register for assistance," said Bolger.
Renters and business owners can register too. It's just mandatory that your home, mobile home, or apartment is located in one of the 43 counties that's been declared a disaster area.
If you lost your deed in the storm, you can find records with your bank, city, or county.
- Do I have to have homeowners insurance to qualify for FEMA? That's fiction.
FEMA is for the under insured and the uninsured, but if you have insurance you have to contact them first.
"You have different individual situations in your home. So to try to tell you, you are eligible and your neighbor is not, I can't do that. The only way to find out is start with your insurance company, notify them so they can come and take a look at the damage and then call FEMA and register," Bolger added.
- Can FEMA reimburse me for the food I lost in the fridge due to power outages? That's fiction.
FEMA is done on a case-by-case basis so if, for example, you have a medical reason you can prove to FEMA that requires refrigeration, then you may qualify.
For food assistance, FEMA is urging folks to seek help from places like the Red Cross and The Salvation Army. You'd be surprised what FEMA can cover.
"We can cover dental, medical, funeral expenses and even in some cases transportation expenses," said Bolger.
- After I've registered with FEMA and have gotten my case number, am I done with the process? That's fiction.
You'll get some information in the mail from the Small Business Administration offering a long term, low interest loan.
Even if you don't need a loan, you still need to fill out the application and send it back. If you don't respond, it will stop your FEMA claim completely.
FEMA is your tax dollars at work. One thing you can't do is lie.
"Tell the truth and explain your situation. if you have found to have lied, that's federal fraud," said Bolger.
FEMA contact information:
- Phone: 800-621-FEMA or 800-621-3362
- Website: http://www.fema.gov/