Hurricane IRMA - FEMA Questions & Answers

How do you contact FEMA?

1 (800) 621-3362

Is FEMA free money?

FEMA provides grants to qualified homeowners to repair damage not covered by insurance, but these grants may not pay for all the damage. However, an SBA disaster loan may return a home to its pre-disaster condition. ... You do not have to repay grant money, however SBA disaster loans must be repaid.

How do I get help from FEMA?

1. Call (800) 621-FEMA, or (800) 621-3362;
2. The TTY line number for the hearing impaired is (800) 462-7585, or use 711 Video Relay Service to call 1-621-3362;
3. Phones are open between 7 am. and 1 am. daily;
4. Apply online - online it is called "applying".
5. smartphone

What is a FEMA grant?

Grants & Assistance Programs for Individuals. Catalog of Federal Disaster Assistance (CFDA) numbers are provided to help you find additional information on the CFDA website. ... Disaster Legal Services. (CDFA Number: 97.033) Provides free legal assistance to disaster victims.

What can FEMA do?

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) mission is to support the citizens and first responders to promote that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Is FEMA assistance a loan?

A: You do not need to repay this form of FEMA assistance. There is a loan program available through the SBA that does require repayment. FEMA assistance is not taxable because it is considered help to cover a loss. In other words, there is a not a taxable gain so no tax is due on the assistance.

How long does it take to get money from FEMA?

The process varies by individuals and depends on many factors. Once FEMA determines you are eligible, it usually takes only two to three days to receive your funds. FEMA can deposit the funds automatically into your bank account, or simply mail you a check.

How do you apply for FEMA assistance?

Apply Now. Visit to apply for assistance online. If you experience difficulty applying online, you may also call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585 to apply during standard hours of operation (7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time), 7 days a week.
Apply for Assistance |

Application Checklist - To apply by phone for FEMA assistance:

1‑800‑621‑FEMA (1‑800‑621‑3362)
TTY 1‑800‑462‑7585
711 or VRS 1‑800‑621‑3362

Disaster Survivor Information Checklist

Before you start your application, please have the information below and a pen and paper ready.

Social Security Number

You, another adult member or minor child in your household must have a Social Security number. You or they must also be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

If you don't have a Social Security number, read the article How do I apply for a new or replacement Social Security number card. You will get instructions on what to do and what documents you will need.

Once you have your number, you may come back to or call FEMA at one of the phone numbers above to apply.

Insurance Information

Describe the type(s) of insurance coverage you have. This could include coverage under policies like homeowners, flood, automobile, or mobile home insurance.

Damage Information

Describe the damage caused by the disaster. Include the type of disaster (like flood, hurricane, or earthquake) and the type of dwelling or vehicle (like a condo, mobile home or house, or a car or truck).

Financial Information

Provide your total annual household income, before taxes, at the time of the disaster.

Contact Information

Provide the address and phone number of the property where the damage occurred and the address and phone number of where we can reach you now.

Direct Deposit Information (optional)

If approved, we can deposit your funds directly into your bank account. You just need to provide the following banking information:

Bank name
Type of account (like checking or savings)
Routing number
Account number

If you need help with the application, please call FEMA at one of the phone numbers above.

How long does it take FEMA to respond to a disaster?

The process varies by individuals and depends on many factors. Once FEMA determines you are eligible, it usually takes only two to three days to receive your funds. FEMA can deposit the funds automatically into your bank account, or simply mail you a check.

What is the phone number to apply for FEMA disaster assistance?

Those affected by the storms may apply for a range of state, federal and voluntary disaster assistance programs immediately by calling the toll-free number from 7:00 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week (EDT). The number to call is 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585

"FEMA only provides grants. The grants may cover expenses for temporary housing, home repairs, replacement of damaged personal property and other disaster-related needs such as medical, dental or transportation costs not covered by insurance or other programs. They don't have to be repaid."

What is disaster unemployment assistance?

Disaster Unemployment Assistance ( DUA ) provides unemployment benefits for individuals who lost their jobs or self-employment or who are no longer working as a direct result of a major disaster for which a disaster assistance period is declared, and who applied but are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.

What is a disaster loan?

SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following items damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster: real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets.

Is FEMA a government agency?

FEMA was absorbed into DHS effective March 1, 2003. As a result, FEMA became part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate of Department of Homeland Security, employing more than 2,600 full-time employees. It became the Federal Emergency Management Agency again on March 31, 2007, but remained in DHS.

What is the role of the FEMA?

The Act gives FEMA the responsibility for coordinating government-wide relief efforts. It is designed to bring an orderly and systemic means of federal natural disaster assistance for state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens.


What government agencies handle emergency services?

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office (CEPPO)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
National Domestic Preparedness Office (NDPO)
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
Office of Homeland Security.


Understanding the communication roles and responsibilities of the Federal Government and its counterparts at the State and local levels during the planning for, and reaction to, emergency risk situations is a challenging task. Issues include:

Many players
Evolving communication plans
Changing environment.
There are numerous agencies, organizations, and interagency partnerships, all responsible for different, and not necessarily distinct, components of different emergencies. The Federal agencies play a role in an emergency event mainly during the first 48 hours following the onset of that event. The States remain the first responders to an emergency incident until Federal assistance can be coordinated and deployed.

Be aware that the roles and responsibilities of the key agencies often overlap. Many of these agencies are still clarifying their communication protocols in relation to other organizations.

Administrations and threats change. New technological advancements arise. New or re-emerging incidents occur and the manner in which those incidents are handled and the reactions to that handling vary. All of these lead to a constantly changing environment within the roles and responsibilities arena.

The environment in which you will be assigning roles and responsibilities while developing your communication plan is constantly changing. Federal agencies, States, counties, and cities all have to adapt to the changing environment, priorities, and budgets when it comes to planning for emergency risk situations.

National Agencies

The following list is provided to help public health organizations understand the current roles and responsibilities of major national agencies.

American Red Cross

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Department of Defense (DoD)

Department of Energy (DOE)

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Department of the Interior (DOI)

Department of Justice, Office for Domestic Preparedness

Department of State

Department of Transportation (DOT)

Department of the Treasury
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office (CEPPO)

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

National Domestic Preparedness Office (NDPO)

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

Office of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

U.S. National Response Team (NRT)
American Red Cross (

The Red Cross is a private, voluntary organization that is tasked by the Federal Government to provide immediate disaster relief, such as shelter, food, and health services, to victims of disasters of all kinds -- natural and manmade.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (

The CIA provides evidence-based foreign intelligence related to national security, including information about the potential terrorist use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents.

Department of Agriculture (USDA) (

USDA has the primary responsibility for protecting the safety of the Nation's food supply. The agency has a comprehensive biosecurity system designed to prevent the harmful introduction of plant and animal pathogens into America's system of agriculture and food production. This system includes resources and response mechanisms in case an emergency should occur. USDA also closely coordinates with the States, industry, law enforcement, and other Federal agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CDC, and the U.S. Customs Service, on biosecurity issues.

Department of Defense (DoD) (

The armed service branches of DoD, including the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and National Guard, continue to be the frontline military defense against terrorist threats.

The DoD's Defense Threat Reduction Agency focuses specifically on safeguarding America from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high explosives) by reducing the present threat and preparing for the future threat.

In addition to its traditional military role, the DoD also supports the operations of other Federal Government agencies as well as State and local governments. The mission of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command's (SBCCOM) Homeland Defense Business Unit is to enhance the response capabilities of military, Federal, State, and local emergency responders to terrorist incidents involving WMD.

Department of Energy (DOE) (

One of the DOE's primary missions is to enhance national security in relation to nuclear energy. The Emergency Operations unit of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) directs DOE's and NNSA's emergency responses at DOE and NNSA facilities and field sites, and to nuclear and radiological emergencies within the United States and abroad.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Chemical and Biological Defense Program (PNNL) has researchers focusing on the whole spectrum of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. In addition to creating pathogen detection systems, PNNL prepares military forces and emergency responders to recognize and respond to incidents involving WMD, with emphasis on chemical and biological threats.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (

HHS is the primary agency for coordinating health, medical, and health-related social services under the Federal Response Plan. HHS also provides medical teams to assist the FBI, Secret Service, and Department of State in the field.

The HHS National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) ( is a federally coordinated system that augments the Nation's emergency medical response capability. The overall purpose of the NDMS is to establish a single, integrated, national medical response capability for assisting State and local authorities in dealing with the medical and health effects of major peacetime disasters and providing support to the military and Veterans Health Administration medical systems in caring for casualties evacuated back to the United States from overseas armed conflicts.

The HHS Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) has the departmental responsibility for managing and coordinating Federal health, medical, and health-related social services and recovery to major emergencies and federally declared disasters, including natural disasters, technological disasters, major transportation accidents, and terrorism. Working in partnership with FEMA and the Federal interagency community, OEP serves as the lead Federal agency for health and medical services within the Federal Response Plan. OEP also directs and manages the National Disaster Medical System. OEP is also responsible for Federal health and medical response to terrorist acts involving WMD.

Department of the Interior (DOI) (

The DOI's Hazards and Facilities Team of their Office of Policy Management and Budget works to ensure adequate capability to prepare for and respond to incidents caused by natural or human effects that impact Federal lands, resources (including nationwide fish and wildlife resources, flood plains, wetlands, and cultural/historic resources), facilities, tenants, employees, visitors, and adjacent landowners.

Department of Justice, Office for Domestic Preparedness (

The Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), is the program office responsible for enhancing the capacity and preparedness of State and local jurisdictions to respond to WMD incidents of domestic terrorism. ODP's State and Local Domestic Preparedness Program accomplishes this through its training, exercises, equipment grants, and technical assistance programs.

Department of State (

State Department activities related to emergency response include protecting and assisting U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad and keeping the public informed about U.S. foreign policy and relations with other countries.

The Office of the Coordinator of Counterterrorism coordinates all U.S. Government efforts to improve counterterrorism cooperation with foreign governments and coordinates responses to major international terrorist incidents in progress. Another primary responsibility of the Office is to develop, coordinate, and implement American counterterrorism policy.

Department of Transportation (DOT) (

DOT contains several important agencies that deal with emergency situations. The U.S. Coast Guard responds to maritime emergencies and also may assist State and local officials in dealing with chemical incidents, particularly oil and hazardous materials spills.

Other DOT agencies that may be involved in emergency response are the Federal Aviation Administration ( and the Federal Railroad Administration (, particularly their Hazardous Materials Division.

Department of the Treasury (

The primary divisions of the Department of the Treasury involved in emergency response are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and the U.S. Customs Service. ATF supports Federal, State, and local governments in responding to and investigating incidents caused by arson and/or explosives. They have national response teams typically able to respond within 24 hours of the incident.

The U.S. Customs Service guards U.S. borders to prevent the entry of illegal substances that may be used for a terrorist attack.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office (CEPPO) (

EPA's CEPPO provides leadership, advocacy, and assistance to (1) prevent and prepare for chemical emergencies, (2) respond to environmental crises, and (3) inform the public about chemical hazards in their community. To protect human health and the environment, CEPPO develops, implements, and coordinates regulatory and nonregulatory programs. The Office carries out this work in partnership with regions, domestic and international organizations in the public and private sectors, and the general public.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) (

The FBI serves as the lead agency for preventing acts of terrorism in the United States. The FBI Web site includes descriptions of major investigations under way as well as specific reports on terrorism.

The Awareness of National Security Issues and Response (ANSIR) Program is the FBI's national security awareness program. It is the public voice of the FBI for espionage, counterintelligence, counterterrorism, economic espionage, cyber and physical infrastructure protection, and all national security issues. The program is designed to provide unclassified national security threat and warning information to U.S. corporate security directors and executives, law enforcement, and other Government agencies. It also focuses on the "response" capability unique to the FBI's jurisdiction in both law enforcement and counterintelligence investigations.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (

FEMA is the Federal agency that coordinates the response of Federal agencies to disasters and the communication of information about disasters between Federal agencies and the public, particularly within the first 48 hours following the event.

FEMA's Guide for All-Hazard Emergency Operations Planning State and Local Guide (101), Chapter 6, Attachment G - Terrorism, Tab B, April 2001, provides a detailed list of Federal departments and agencies with counterterrorism-specific roles. Agencies mentioned include FEMA, DOJ, DoD, DOE, HHS, EPA, DOA, and NRC.

National Domestic Preparedness Office (NDPO) (

The mission of this Office is to coordinate and facilitate all Federal WMD efforts to assist State and local emergency responders with planning, training, equipment, exercise, and health and medical issues necessary to respond to a WMD event. Program areas encompass planning, training, exercises, equipment, information sharing, and public health and medical services. Federal partners include FEMA, FBI, DOE, EPA, DOJ, Office for State and Local Domestic Preparedness Support, HHS, and the National Guard Bureau.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) (

NRC's Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response (NSIR) is ready to respond to an event at an NRC-licensed facility that could threaten public health and safety or the environment. NRC's highest priority is to provide expert consultation, support, and assistance to State and local public safety officials responding to the event. Once the NRC incident response program is activated, teams of specialists obtain and evaluate event information to assess the potential impact of the event on public health and safety and the environment.

Office of Homeland Security (

The Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council have been established to develop and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to strengthen Federal, State, and local counterterrorism efforts. Resources include the Homeland Security State Contact List, which shows the homeland security contact for each State.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) (

The TSA is a new agency, developed in 2001 in response to the events of September 11, to protect the Nation's various transportation systems. Some of its duties include strengthening security systems at airports and coordinating transportation matters for the Federal Government in the event of a future terrorist incident.

U.S. National Response Team (NRT) (

The NRT consists of 16 Federal agencies with responsibilities, interests, and expertise in various aspects of emergency response to pollution incidents.


What is the federal response plan?

FEMA uses the Federal Response Plan (FRP) to coordinate the Government Response to disaster or emergency situations. The FRP is applicable to: Natural disasters involving earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and fires.

What is the National Response Framework?

The United States National Response Framework (NRF) is part of the National Strategy for Homeland Security that presents the guiding principles enabling all levels of domestic response partners to prepare for and provide a unified national response to disasters and emergencies.

Do you have to pay taxes on money received from FEMA?

FEMA assistance is not taxable income, does not need to be reported on your tax return, and does not affect benefits from any other federal program. FEMA grants for rent, essential home repairs, personal property losses and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance do not count as income.

What is FEMA public assistance?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Public Assistance Program provides aid in the wake of a major disaster to state and local governments, and to certain non-profits, to help communities in their recovery efforts.

What does it mean to receive public assistance?

In the United States, federal assistance, also known as federal aid, federal benefits, or federal funds, is defined as any federal program, project, service, or activity provided by the federal government that directly assists domestic governments, organizations, or individuals in the areas of education, health, public ...

What is an example of a public assistance program?

Federal cash assistance programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, and the Earned Income Credit. Some examples of major federal in-kind benefit programs include Medicaid, Food Stamps, and housing assistance.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has made a temporary change in the flood insurance claims process and is extending the grace period for paying policy renewal premiums for insured survivors affected by Hurricane Irma.

In a news release, FEMA said due to the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma, FEMA implemented temporary changes to rush recovery money into the hands of NFIP policyholders, for repair and replacement of flood-damaged properties.

To ensure continuous flood insurance coverage for current NFIP policyholders affected by the storm — even if the renewed policy premium cannot be paid at this time — FEMA is directing all NFIP private insurance partners to:

Provide advance payments on flood claims, even before visits by an adjuster.
Increase the advance payment allowable for policyholders who provide photographs or video depicting flood  damage and expenses, or a contractor’s itemized estimate.
Waive use of the initial Proof of Loss (POL) form.

Extend the grace period for payment of NFIP flood insurance policy renewal premiums to 120 days. This waiver applies to all NFIP policies, whether issued by the NFIP Servicing Agent or a Write Your Own Company, written for properties in areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and counties in Florida that have received a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance (IA) under the Stafford Act.

The NFIP is making it easier for policyholders to receive an advance payment for their flood claim to help them begin the process of recovery as quickly as possible. After filing a flood insurance claim, the policyholder can discuss advance payment with the insurer:

When a policyholder contacts his/her insurer and verifies his/her identity, he/she can receive an advance payment for up to $5,000 on a flood claim without an adjuster visit or additional documentation.  When the advance payment is issued, a letter is sent to the policyholder which explains that by accepting this payment the policyholder is certifying the damage.
Up to $20,000 may be advanced to a policyholder who provides photos and/or videos depicting damage, and receipts validating out-of-pocket expenses related to flood loss or a contractor’s itemized estimate. Policyholders with significant damage who have a contractor’s itemized estimate may be eligible for a larger advance payment and should discuss this with the adjuster.
Advance payments are deducted from a policyholder’s final claim settlement amount. Advance payments may only be used according to the terms of the policy.

For example, if a policyholder has a building/structure flood insurance policy, the advance payment must be used to repair or rebuild the structure. Or if a policyholder has contents coverage, the advance payment must be used to repair or replace contents that were within the structure. Advance payments may not be used for temporary housing and living expenses.

If a policyholder’s property is mortgaged, the lender will also be named on the advance payment issued for a building/structure flood insurance policy. In this case, the policyholder and lender will both be required to sign the advance payment check.

To expedite processing of NFIP claims for Hurricane Irma, the NFIP is waiving the requirement for a policyholder to submit an initial Proof of Loss (POL) document. Here’s how the expedited process will work:

After a policyholder files a claim, a time is set up for the adjuster to inspect the flood damaged property. The adjuster will document the damage and submit a report to the policyholder’s insurance company.

If additional damage is discovered or a policyholder does not agree with the payment amount, a policyholder can seek additional payment if the policy’s coverage limits have not been met. A POL will be required to seek a supplemental payment on the claim. If payment is issued based upon the adjuster’s initial report and an additional proof of loss is not submitted by the policyholder, the insurer will close the file.

If a policyholder decides to request an additional payment, which must be done by completing a POL, the policyholder will have one year from the date of filing the initial claim to submit the request to the insurance company. FEMA has informed all of its NFIP insurance partners about this process and how it will work.  NFIP policyholders are encouraged to work closely with an adjuster on this expedited process.

Renewals grace period

To ensure that policyholders affected by Hurricane Irma can focus on recovery and continue to have flood insurance coverage, FEMA is extending the current 30-day grace period of continual flood insurance coverage to 120 days, for policies in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, that were set for renewal during the immediate response to Hurricane Irma.

Policies with an expiration date of Aug. 7 through Oct. 6 are eligible for the grace period extension.  Payment for those policies must be received within 120 days of the policy expiration.

The NFIP cannot pay a claim for a flood loss that occurs after a policy expiration date unless the policyholder’s insurance company receives the payment in full for renewal on or before the last day of the grace period.

The grace period extension applies to NFIP policies covering properties in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida counties designated under the Presidential Disaster Declaration. NFIP policyholders are encouraged to contact their insurance company and report a flood claim as soon as possible.  For any policy with a renewal date on or after October 7, 2017, the normal 30-day grace period will apply.


Apply for Assistance

This page provides information and guidance for disaster survivors who want to apply for assistance related to a federally declared disaster.  It inlcudes a link to complete an application for FEMA assistance, a list of items you need when you apply for FEMA assistance, and the phone number for FEMA if you cannot complete an application online.  If you need immediate assistance call 911.

Apply Now

Visit to apply for assistance online.  If you experience difficulty applying online, you may also call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585 to apply during standard hours of operation (7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time), 7 days a week.  You can also check your application status at  Survivors have 60-days from the date of a declaration for Individual Assistance to apply for assistance.

Please note that if you are eligible for an Individual Assistance grant you are not required to pay back the grant to FEMA.  There is no income threshold for Individual Assistance grants, but you may be referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a low interest disaster loan to assist in your recovery.  These low interest disaster loans for homeowners and businesses from the SBA must be repaid.

Documents And Materials You Need To Apply

When you register for disaster assistance either online or by phone, you will need the following to complete your application.

Social Security number
Address of the location where the damage occured (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 (this allows FEMA to directly transfer disaster assistance funds into your bank account).
A description of your disaster-caused damage and losses

Additional Information

Visit the Individual Disaster Assistance page on this site for the following information:

The types of assistance FEMA provides to individuals and families
What happens if you have insurance
What happens during your home inspection
What happens after your inspection
How to obtain a copy of your application/case file
How to appeal FEMA's decision regarding your assistance
Please watch our video: FEMA Registration Intake Video

To determine if your damaged home is in a Federally declared disaster area please visit the Disaster Declarations page on this site.  You can also enter your address on to determine if your home is in an area declared for Individual Assistance.


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