After the storm: Understanding the FEMA letter

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Survivors who apply for assistance from FEMA as a result of damage from Hurricane Florence will receive a letter from FEMA in the mail or via email.

The letter will explain the status of their application and how to respond. It is important to read the letter carefully.
The letter will include the amount of any assistance FEMA may provide to the survivor and information on the appropriate use of disaster assistance funds.

Many times applicants need to submit additional information for FEMA to continue to process their application.
Examples of missing documentation may include proof of insurance coverage, settlement of insurance claims, proof of identity, occupancy, ownership of the damaged property or proof that the damaged property was their primary residence at the time of the disaster.

Applicants who have questions about the letter may go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov; call the Disaster Assistance Helpline at 800-621-3362; or visit a Disaster Recovery Center. To locate the nearest Disaster Recovery Center, survivors may go online to www.fema.gov/DRC or scemd.org/recover/disaster-recovery-centers; use the FEMA app for smart phones; or call the Helpline.

Applicants may appeal FEMA’s decision. For example, if applicants feel the amount or type of assistance is incorrect, they may submit an appeal letter and any documents needed to support their claim, such as a contractor’s estimate for home repairs.

FEMA will not duplicate assistance provided by another source, such as insurance settlements or another program. However, underinsured applicants may receive further assistance for unmet needs after insurance claims have been settled by submitting insurance settlement or denial documents to FEMA.

All appeals must be filed in writing to FEMA. In a signed letter, applicants must explain the reason(s) for their appeal.
The appeal letter should also include:
• Full name
• Disaster number
• Address of the pre-disaster primary residence
• Applicant’s current phone number and address
• FEMA registration number

If someone other than the applicant or co-applicant is writing the letter, they must sign the appeal letter, and the applicant must provide FEMA a signed statement authorizing that the person may act on their behalf.

Appeal letters must be postmarked within 60 days of the date on the determination letter.

Appeal letters and supporting documents may be submitted to FEMA by fax or mail, in person at a Disaster Recovery Center, or online if the applicant has a FEMA online account. To set up a FEMA online account, an applicant must visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov, click on “check status” and follow the directions.

By mail:
 FEMA,
P.O. Box 10055
, Hyattsville, MD, 20782-7055
By fax:
 800-827-8112; 
Attention: FEMA

If applicants have any questions about the appeal process, submitting insurance documents, proving occupancy or ownership, or anything else about the FEMA letter, they may call the Helpline at 800-621-3362 or visit a Disaster Recovery Center. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Services may call 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS – Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).

FEMA and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division are committed to ensuring services and assistance are available for people with disabilities or others with access and functional needs. When they register, they should let FEMA staff know they have a need for a reasonable accommodation.

The federal disaster declaration covers eligible losses caused by Hurricane Florence in these counties: Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion and Marlboro counties.

Author: Rachel Howell

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