Steps To Take After The Disaster

The following are the first steps you need to take to recover from the recent disaster and a brief explanation of the federal government’s disaster assistance process. For more detailed information, please visit a Disaster Recovery Center in your area or


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is asking for your help to get assistance first to people with destroyed or seriously damaged homes. If you have damages that are not keeping you from returning home, please wait a few days to apply for disaster assistance. If you get a busy signal when calling FEMA, be patient. The line is operational 24/7. Try calling late in the evening or early in the morning.
  • If you need food, water, clothing, cleaning supplies, and/or minor medical care, please contact the American Red Cross or other volunteer organizations in your area. 
    Check your newspaper, radio and television news for numbers and locations of relief agencies.

  • If you have insurance, contact your insurance company and file a claim. 
    Make sure to talk to your agent about your coverage. If your insurance does not cover all of your needs, such as money to pay for a place to stay while you fix your house (sometimes called additional living expense coverage), you may be eligible for money from the federal government. The federal government cannot give you money for items that insurance covers, but we may be able to help with uncompensated losses. If your insurance company is going to take a long time to settle your claim, you may also be eligible for help. 

  • If you do not have insurance, or have emergency needs that insurance does not cover --- Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) - TTY 1-800-462-7585 - to apply for federal disaster assistance. 
    Federal disaster assistance is for disaster damage to your primary home (vacation homes are not eligible) and includes FEMA’s Individual and Households Program grants and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans to help you repair or rebuild your home, replace essential personal property and provide temporary housing until you can return to your home.You will need to provide the following information as part of registration: name, current and pre-disaster address (if applicable), proof of residency, current telephone numbers and insurance coverage information (policy numbers and agent’s name). FEMA and/or SBA will contact you either with a telephone call from an inspector or by mail about your application.
After you apply:
  • FEMA will mail you a copy of your application and an Applicant Guide that will answer many of your questions. Copies of the guide are also available at local Disaster Recovery Centers. For the most recent list of Disaster Recovery Centers, visit or check local newspapers.

  • Please wait for a FEMA inspector to contact you and complete an inspection of your home before calling with questions. FEMA cannot evaluate your case until the inspector has confirmed your damages. An inspector should contact you within 10 days after you apply. FEMA will decide if you will receive assistance within 10 days after the inspection. 

  • If you have access to a computer, check FEMA’s website ( for frequently asked questions regarding disaster assistance. 

  • If you get an SBA Disaster Loan application in the mail, you need to complete and return the application. SBA staff are available at Disaster Recovery Centers to help you with the application. If SBA finds that you cannot afford a loan, they will automatically refer you to FEMA’s Individual and Household grant program for help. SBA makes the determination if you can afford a loan.
    • If SBA approves you for a loan they will contact you.
    • If SBA finds that you cannot afford a loan, FEMA will contact you.
    • If FEMA decides that you are eligible for a grant, FEMA will send you a check by mail or deposit it in your bank account. FEMA will also send you a letter describing how you are to use the money (for example: repairs to your home or to rent another house while you make repairs).
    • If FEMA decides that you are not eligible for a grant, FEMA will send you a letter explaining why you were turned down, and give you a chance to appeal the decision. Appeals must be in writing and mailed within 60 days of FEMA’s decision.