What to expect after you register for FEMA disaster assistance

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Over 7,500 registrations have been received by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster assistance as a result of damage sustained by Typhoon Soudelor and nearly $4.3 million has been approved for survivors so far. FEMA encourages all who have suffered damage from Typhoon Soudelor to register for disaster assistance.

Those who have suffered losses as a result of Typhoon Soudelor but have not yet applied for assistance are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.  Survivors can register by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for survivors with hearing disabilities.  Online registration is also available 24/7 at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. A Disaster Recovery Center, at Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe is open for assistance with the application process. Normal hours of operation are Mondays-Saturdays 8am to 5pm; Sundays 10am to 4pm. Completing and returning the loan application does not mean that you must accept the loan.

After registering for disaster assistance, applicants can expect to 1.) Have a housing inspection and then 2.) Receive an approval or denial notification.
 
Housing Inspections

Registered survivors will be contacted by a FEMA inspector to schedule an appointment for an inspection, so registrants do not need to contact FEMA to set up an inspection. The wait time for an inspection is approximately two weeks.  The inspection is needed to verify and assess damage listed in your application. The inspection generally takes 30-40 minutes or less and consists of a general inspection of damaged areas of the home and a review of your records. There is no fee for the inspection.

When a FEMA housing inspector comes to visit your home, be sure they show you proper identification. All FEMA inspectors have prominent photo ID badges. If you are not shown photo identification, then do not allow the inspection. Unfortunately, disasters often bring out criminals who prey on the needs of disaster survivors—so beware of scams and scam artists.

When a FEMA Housing Inspector visits your home, someone 18 years of age or older who lived in the household prior to the disaster must be present for the scheduled appointment. The inspector will ask to see:

• Photo identification.

• Proof of ownership/occupancy of damaged residence (structural insurance, tax bill, mortgage payment book/utility bill).

• Insurance documents: home and/or auto (structural insurance/auto declaration sheet).

• List of household occupants living in residence at time of disaster.

• All disaster-related damages to both real and personal property.

If you are unable to provide traditional proof of ownership/occupancy (such as tax bill, mortgage payment books, deed, title, insurance), you can get a signed letter by a local precinct representative to validate the physical location of a home/dwelling (a P.O. Box address is not sufficient).  Letters can be picked up at the fire stations in Kagman, Garapan, Susupe, or Koblerville

Once filled out, take the form to your local fire station. They will provide you with a contact number to reach your local precinct representative to validate.

If you have been displaced and need transportation to and from the housing inspection, you can contact the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority at (670) 237-8000 to schedule transportation.

Approval or Denial Notification Letters

Once the inspection process is complete, your case will be reviewed by FEMA and you will receive a letter or email outlining the decision about your claim.

If you qualify for a FEMA grant, FEMA will send you a check by mail or deposit it directly into your bank account. You will also receive a letter describing how you are to use the money.  You should only use the money given to you as explained in the letter and save receipts on how you spent the money.

If you do not qualify for a FEMA grant, you will receive a letter explaining why you were turned down and will be given a chance to appeal the decision*. Your appeal rights will be described in this letter. Appeals must be in writing and mailed within 60 days of FEMA’s decision.

If you’re referred to the Small Business Administration, you will receive a SBA application. The application must be completed and returned in order to be considered for a loan or for additional FEMA grant assistance. SBA representatives are available to help you with the application at local Disaster Recovery Center.

*An appeal is a written request to review your file again with additional information you provide that may affect the decision.  You may appeal any decision provided by FEMA regarding your Individual Assistance.

Appeals may relate to your initial eligibility decisions, the amount or type of assistance provided to you, late applications, requests to return money, or a denial of Continued Temporary Housing Assistance.  Prior to requesting an appeal review, you should review your file with a FEMA helpline agent at 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA), or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585, or request a copy of your file from FEMA so you can understand why you received the decision you want to appeal.

To appeal the decision:

• Explain in writing why you think the decision about the amount or type of assistance you received is not correct. You, or someone who represents you or your household, should sign the letter and have it notarized. If the person writing the letter is not a member of your household, there must be a signed statement saying that that person may act for you.

• Include the FEMA registration number and disaster number (shown at the top of your decision letter) in your letter of appeal.  You should also include the last four digits of your social security number, your full name, your address, and your date and place of birth.

• You may also want to include a copy of a government-issued identification card or include the following statement “I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct”.

• If you have supporting documentation for your appeal, include that in your correspondence to FEMA.

• Mail your appeal letter to:

FEMA – Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055
or you can fax you appeal letter to:
(800) 827-8112
Attention: FEMA – Individuals & Households Program.

IMPORTANT: To be considered, your appeal letter must be postmarked within 60 days of the date of the decision letter’s date. Remember to date your letters.

• All appeals are reviewed.

• Decisions usually are made within 30 days of receiving the request. 

• Additional information may be requested from you if FEMA does not have enough information to make a decision.

You will be notified by mail of the response to your appeal. (FEMA)

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