Don’t wait for FEMA visit before cleaning up, repairing home

TAMPA (WFLA) – Individuals who suffered property damage or loss directly caused by Hurricane Irma and who plan to seek disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are reminded that the first step is to register – regardless of the requested assistance.

Individuals are urged to register as soon as possible.

Residents can register online at or through the FEMA app or call 1-800-621-FEMA. The toll-free number will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

There have been reports that disaster survivors should not remove flood-damaged Sheetrock, flooring, carpet, etc. until the house is assessed by FEMA or insurance adjusters. This is FALSE.

Cleaning up and making temporary repairs to your storm-damaged property will not disqualify you from federal disaster assistance.

Property owners are encouraged to document storm damage to their properties – either with photographs or video – and to then begin cleaning up and making whatever temporary repairs are necessary to make homes safe and habitable again. Keep your receipts to show the inspector.

When registering with FEMA, you must provide:

  • Social Security number
  • Address of the location where the damage occurred (pre-disaster address)
  • Current mailing address
  • Current telephone number
  • Insurance information
  • Total household annual income
  • Routing and account number for your checking or savings account
  • A description of your disaster-caused damage and losses

Applicants receive a nine-digit registration number for use when corresponding with FEMA. Keep this number on hand. It will be needed to update your application with any new information.

What to Expect After You Apply

Within about 10 days of your application to FEMA, if you are uninsured or lack the appropriate insurance coverage, a qualified inspector will contact you to set up a time to see the damage to your property that was caused by the disaster. If you need language translation support during your inspection, including sign language, you can request it.

When a FEMA inspector arrives, he or she will display official photo identification. If it is not displayed, ask to see it and inspect it carefully. Your losses will be recorded and submitted to the Individual Housing Program (IHP).

Approximately 10 days after the inspection, you should have a decision from IHP about whether you qualify for help. If you have been referred for an SBA disaster loan, the SBA will also contact you and schedule an appointment to review your disaster‐related losses. It is critical that you complete the loan application process.  If it is approved, it provides funds from the low interest loan. If it is not approved, you may qualify for additional FEMA assistance, but not until the loan process is complete.

If you are eligible for help, you should receive a U.S. Treasury/State check or notification of a deposit to your bank account within about 10 days of the inspector’s visit. Other types of assistance may be provided later, based on specific eligibility and need.

For a more detailed explanation of the process and what you can expect, visit

Hurricane Irma was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, prompting one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history.

Veterans needing assistance or medication can contact the Veteran Disaster Hotline at 1-800-507-4571 or go to any VA medical facility for assistance.

To find a dialysis center in your area visit: Patients of DaVita Dialysis may contact 1-800-400-8331 to find the nearest Dialysis Center.

If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress please call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained counselor. You may also visit: for more information about managing stress after a disaster and talking with children about traumatic events.

Floridians in counties granted Individual Assistance may be eligible for tax relief from the IRS. To learn more about IRS assistance for victims of Hurricane Irma visit:

The U.S. Small Business Administration is providing various disaster loans to qualifying Floridians in several counties. For more information about SBA disaster loans visit:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides loans and assistance to qualifying individuals, businesses, and communities after disasters. For more information visit:, or contact the USDA office in Florida at: (352) 338-3400.

Floridians who are unemployed as a result of the disaster are encouraged to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) through the U.S. Department of Labor. For additional information about DUA visit: or contact the U.S. Department of Labor by phone at 1-866-487-2365.

To find out if you qualify for temporary mortgage relief such as a suspension of mortgage payments for up to 12 months, or suspension of late fees, visit the Freddie Mac website at: For additional information visit the Fannie Mae website at: or by phone at 1-800-2FANNIE (800-232-6643).

The U.S. Small Business Administration is hiring a variety of temporary positions located throughout Florida now through December 31, 2017. For more information visit:

For in-person assistance with storm related questions, or to apply for benefits you may visit your local FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. For a list of Centers in your area visit:

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