SonomaCountyRecovers: Official recovery information for Sonoma County fires

FEMA Disaster Assistance

If you suffered personal or business losses in the devastating wildfires that broke out in October and you’re waiting for your insurance settlement before you register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), don’t wait any longer. Disaster assistance may be able to fill insurance gaps or provide help if you’ve been waiting more than 30 days on a homeowner’s claim. Another reason not to delay: the deadline for registering with FEMA is Dec. 11, 2017.

Registering with FEMA is required for federal aid, even if you have registered with another disaster-relief organization, such as the American Red Cross. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance or other benefits. However, FEMA may be able to help with uninsured or underinsured losses if the insurance settlement is delayed. FEMA may also be able to help:

  • If you have received the settlement from the insurance company but you still have unmet needs.
  • If you have exhausted the settlement for Additional Living Expenses (ALE for loss of use) and you need disaster-related temporary housing.
  • If your settlement does not cover disaster-related needs such as medical, dental and funeral costs, emergency home repairs and other disaster-related expenses.

If your settlement has been delayed longer than 30 days, you may write FEMA to explain your situation. Provide insurance documentation to prove you’ve submitted your claim, including the claim number, the date you applied and how long you estimate it will take for the company to settle, and mail your letter to:

FEMA - Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-70155

Or

fax it to 800-827-8112.

You should also register with FEMA if your wells or septic systems were damaged in the fires. Homeowners in the eight designated counties – Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma and Yuba – may be eligible for grant funding to pump septic tanks, perform required repairs or replace the system as needed. Damaged private wells that are the sole source of water for the home and need to be repaired or decontaminated are also potentially eligible.

Survivors who applied for assistance from FEMA and were contacted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have many good reasons to submit a loan application before the deadline of Dec. 11, 2017.

Some of the key reasons for submitting an SBA low-interest disaster loan application include:

  • SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. Renters, as well as homeowners, may be eligible to borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace clothing, furniture, appliances and damaged vehicles.
  • A future insurance settlement may fall short. Survivors may find out that they are underinsured for the amount of work it takes to repair or replace their damaged home. An SBA low-interest disaster loan can cover the uninsured costs. SBA may approve a loan for the repair or replacement of a home up to $200,000. The loan balance may be reduced by their insurance settlement. However, the opportunity for an SBA loan may be lost if they wait until after the deadline expires on Dec. 11, 2017.
  • If SBA determines the survivors aren’t eligible for a loan, SBA may refer them back to FEMA. This could make them eligible for more FEMA assistance.

Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), go online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or visit a Disaster Recovery Center as soon as possible.

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 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time seven days a week until further notice.

You can view the FEMA Registration Intake Video to learn more about the process and how to apply. You can also learn how FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) may be able to help.

While foreign students may qualify for non-cash in-kind disaster relief (such as search and rescue, provision of food, water, sheltering, or emergency medical assistance), they do not qualify for cash assistance because their authorization to reside in the United States is based in part on the existence of an in-country support system.

Yes, with very few exceptions, if you want federal assistance you must register with FEMA, either by telephone (1-800-621-FEMA (3362)), online (www.DisasterAssistance.gov) or at a Local Assistance Center. You will need your FEMA registration number for future reference.

If you are applying on your minor child’s behalf, you should provide his/her Social Security Number.

Have available information ready:

  • Social Security number(s)
  • Address of the damaged home or apartment
  • Description of the damage
  • Information about insurance coverage
  • Telephone number
  • Mailing address
  • Bank account & routing numbers for direct deposits of funds

Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), go online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or visit a Local Assistance Center as soon as possible.

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 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time seven days a week until further notice.

You can view the FEMA Registration Intake Video to learn more about the process and how to apply. You can also learn how FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) may be able to help.

To check the status of your application you need to create an account first.

To create an account:

  1. Click Check Your Status on the Home page or from the Get Assistance tab.
  2. Click Create Account.

Detailed instructions can be found under How do I create an account?

If you already have an account:

  1. Click Check Your Status on the Home page or from the Get Assistance tab.
  2. Log in with your user ID, password and PIN to get Your Application Status page.

You must have an email address to create the account. This is the only way we can send a PIN to you, and you need the PIN to access your account.

If you don’t know if you finished your application, call the FEMA Helpline, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • 711 or VRS 1-800-621-3362
  • You may be eligible for short-term, non-cash, emergency aid provided by FEMA.
  • You will not be personally eligible for FEMA cash assistance programs (Individuals and Households Program Assistance); however, you may apply on behalf of your U.S. citizen child, or another adult household member may qualify the household for assistance.

Yes, you may be eligible under many different programs run by state and local agencies and voluntary agencies for various types of cash assistance.

  • You can apply on behalf of your minor child (under 18 years of age) for FEMA cash assistance (Individuals and Households Program Assistance) if you live together.
  • You will not have to provide any information on your immigration status or sign any documents regarding your status.

Not necessarily, because having a Social Security Number does not automatically mean that you are a Qualified Alien. You may be legally present in the U.S. and have a Social Security Number, but not be a Qualified Alien.

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National, or a Qualified Alien in order to be eligible for FEMA cash assistance programs: Individuals and Households Program Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance.
  • A Qualified Alien1 includes anyone with legal permanent residence (“green card”).
  • You will be asked to sign a Declaration and Release (FEMA Form 90-69 B) that you are a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National, or a Qualified Alien.
  • If you cannot sign the Declaration and Release, another adult household member who is eligible can sign it and no information regarding your status will be gathered.
  • If you cannot sign the Declaration and Release but you have a minor child who is a U.S. Citizen or a Qualified Alien residing with you, you can apply for assistance on your child’s behalf and no information regarding your status will be gathered. You will be asked to sign a declaration that your child is a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National, or a Qualified Alien.
  • You do not have to be a U.S. Citizen or a Qualified Alien for Crisis Counseling or Disaster Legal Services or for other short-term, non-cash emergency assistance.

FEMA coordinates the Federal Government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters. SBA, on the other hand, is the Federal Government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses, and non-profit organizations repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory, and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster. These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For information about SBA programs, applicants may call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY 1-800-877-8339).

For a three-step Disaster Assistance Process and recent news on disaster response and recovery, please visit www.fema.gov/apply-assistance. If you are looking for the nearest Disaster Recovery Center, go to www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers.

To be eligible for cash assistance from FEMA you must generally be a lawful permanent residents (possessing an alien registration receipt card) or those with legal status due to asylum, refugee, parole (admission into the U.S. for humanitarian purposes), withholding of deportation, or domestic violence. Applicants should consult an immigration expert concerning whether or not their immigration status falls within the qualified alien category. Find more information on FEMA’s website.

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