BATON ROUGE, La. – Applicants who receive notice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that they are ineligible for disaster assistance after Hurricane Isaac may discover that a “no” can be turned into a “yes.”
"A denial may simply mean that we need more information to make a decision regarding your application," said Mike Hall, federal coordinating officer for the disaster recovery operation in Louisiana. "Please work with us. Help us help you."
Disaster assistance for qualified homeowners and renters may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs or serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also offers low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and business owners.
Both disaster grants and loans cover uninsured or uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
The most common reason for a denial of housing assistance is that the applicant needs to provide FEMA with a copy of an insurance settlement before a grant application can be processed.
Other reasons for a determination of ineligibility:
· The applicant did not sign the required documents.
· The applicant did not prove occupancy or ownership.
· The damage is to a secondary home or a rental property, not a primary residence.
· Someone else in the household has already applied and received help.
· A FEMA housing inspector cannot reach the applicant by phone.
· The applicant did not maintain the required flood insurance coverage for the damaged property.
Applicants can call the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362, or TTY 1-800-462-7585, to find out why they were denied and how to submit any required documents or changes to contact information. For those who use 711 Relay or Video Relay Services, call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Applicants may also visit a Disaster Recovery Center, where specialists from the state of Louisiana, FEMA and the SBA are on hand to answer questions, review applications and accept required documents. For a list of the centers open in Louisiana, go online to www.fema.gov/disaster/4080 or www.gohsep.la.gov.
If FEMA determines that an applicant is not eligible for a federal grant, the applicant may still be eligible for other assistance, such as disaster unemployment assistance, low-interest federal disaster loans or crisis counseling services.
An applicant also has the right to appeal a denial in writing within 60 days from the date of the decision of the letter. Guidelines for appeals can be found in the "Help After a Disaster" handbook that each applicant receives. Applicants can also get guidance on this issue at any Disaster Recovery Center.
For more information on Louisiana disaster recovery, click www.fema.gov/disaster/4080 or www.gohsep.la.gov. You can follow FEMA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion6 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FEMA. Also visit our blog at www.fema.gov/blog.