5 On Your Side

Flood victims should file with insurer, FEMA

Posted October 11

The owners of the thousands of homes and businesses flooded by Hurricane Matthew can benefit from federal assistance programs, but getting organized is key.

After a natural disaster, property owners can be overwhelmed by the cost to get their lives back on track.

As they assess damage, documentation can help speed the process of both insurance claims and FEMA aid. Take pictures of everything damaged, going room by room through homes and businesses.

Anyone in counties designated as federal disaster areas who have loss or damages can apply for assistance. That includes home and business owners and renters.

FEMA has both grant programs, which don't have to be paid back, and low-interest loans to cover rent, temporary housing, repairs, as well as disaster related needs including lost clothing, moving and storage expenses, even medical and dental costs. FEMA picks up where insurance leaves off, so claimants should always first file with their insurer.

FEMA applications are available online or by phone at 1-800-621-3362. Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

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