Navigating the FEMA Disaster Assistance Website

The catastrophe hurricane village at Home Depot on Abercorn street was full of folks with questions for FEMA. The line filled with people looking for help, help from FEMA for their damage, and help navigating the online application. We decided to get out of the tent, and get on the computer to see how tough.. or easy it might be.

You log on to disasterassistance.gov.

Type in your address and find out if your county is in the “disaster” area – that goes for anyone the lowcountry or Coastal Empire.

There are questions to answer, “what kind of assistance do you need”, about renting or owning, whether you are flooded out, is this a “life changing” disaster.

“The biggest mistakes are that people think if they have insurance they are ok, explained Frederick Daniels of FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance. “But if they don’t have insurance they are unable to register. The thing is whether you have insurance or don’t have insurance you can register with FEMA. we just have you go through your insurance first. That way we don’t want to duplicate benefits you are getting.”

There are multiple different categories for you to look at including getting a business loan whether you are someone who is older, low income or needy who wants help now to make it through, and where your nearest disaster recovery center is if you are having trouble.

A couple more pages in, you need to type in your name and address and social security number to help avoid fraud.

Then you choose what disaster you went through, in this case Hurricane Matthew, and then what was affected by the storm – home, car and if your health was affected..

“So if i don’t have a tree on my house can I get assistance?”
“Yes you can still register for assistance,” explained Daniels. “But there are local organizations that help with tree removal and that sort of thing. But as far as FEMA is concerned if there is not immediate damage to your house due to the tree, like if their tree didn’t land on your house just your property then you have to go through other organizations for that. You still can register, its just not one of the things we cover now.”

You must say where you are living now and what expenses you now have because of the damage..including immediate need for food and shelter.
Also tell them who is living with you, kids, etc.
How much you made before the storm.
A few more questions and then your are done.
So how long do you have to wait from there?

“The inspector is usually out within 7-10 days,” said Daniels. “It can be give or take a week depending on the amount of people and inspectors but generally 7-10 days when you will hear a call from the inspector.”

To do the form yourself, go to disasterassistance.gov