Earlier this week FEMA shared some updated messaging regarding applying for assistance, what types of assistance FEMA offers, deadlines to apply, and information on applying for Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans. For questions regarding this information, please visit fema.gov/disaster/4637.
These updates are accurate as of Feb. 17.
One Month Left to Apply for FEMA Assistance
Since the devestating December 2021 storms, more than $4.4 million in federal funds has been provided to residents to assist in their recovery. Survivors who still need to apply for FEMA assistance have until March 15, 2022, to do so.
Funding is available to residents in Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Stewart, Sumner, Weakley, and Wilson counties.
Applying for FEMA assistance is free and easy. To start your claim, use any of the following options:
- Go online to DisasterAssistance.gov.
- Use the FEMA app, which can be easily downloaded to a smartphone.
- Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. Specialists are available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, seven days a week. Multilingual services are available.
- If you use a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others:
- Update the “Current Phone” field using the relay service phone number
- Add “Relay Service” to the Note box; provide FEMA with your number.
FEMA Housing Inspections
FEMA Housing Inspectors will make an appointment before visiting your property to assess damage. The inspector may call and confirm the last four digits of your FEMA application number and then schedule an appointment seven to 10 days from the date your initial application is submitted.
Over the past month, FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams have gone door-to-door in the 12 declared counties, interacting with 2,061 individuals to help them apply for assistance and to provide referrals to other resources.
NOTE: Apply Even If You Have Insurance
If your personal property or primary residence was damaged when a line of tornadoes touched down in middle and west Tennessee in December, consider applying for FEMA assistance even if you have insurance. Don’t wait until after you receive your insurance settlement to apply. First, file your insurance claim, then apply for FEMA. FEMA cannot duplicate benefits, but once you are in the agency’s application system, you can submit documentation on your insurance settlement or claim denial when you receive it, and any uncovered damages will be considered.
For nonprofits: FEMA continues to support state and local leaders to provide Public Assistance funding for storm-related emergency response and the restoration of infrastructure, damaged public facilities and certain private nonprofits, like houses of worship. To learn more, go to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency “Active Disasters” page, and click on FEMA-4637.
What FEMA Individual Assistance Does and Does Not Cover
Under a recently signed Major Disaster Declaration, homeowners and renters in Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Stewart, Sumner, Weakley and Wilson counties whose primary residence and/or personal property was damaged or destroyed by the December
What is not eligible?
FEMA does not offer housing assistance for secondary homes; you may only receive FEMA assistance for disaster damage to your primary residence. Additionally, FEMA does not provide assistance to small businesses. Our partner, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), offers low interest disaster loans for that. Business owners, renters and homeowners may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunication relay services), or by emailing DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. Disaster loan applications can also be downloaded at sba.gov/disaster.
What FEMA may cover
Tornado survivors in middle and west Tennessee are eligible to apply for grants that cover temporary housing, repairs and other uninsured or underinsured losses. However, those who still have questions can speak with a FEMA representative at 800-621-3362 to learn how the agency can assist with their disaster recovery. Here is an abbreviated list of assistance available:
Temporary Housing Assistance: Funds for temporary housing, such as rental assistance or reimbursement for hotel costs, while you are unable to live in your home due to extreme tornado damage.
Lodging Expenses Reimbursement: Reimbursement of hotel expenses for homeowners or renters for short periods of time because they can’t access their disaster-damaged primary residence, or a utility outage makes the home unlivable.
Home Repair or Replacement: FEMA may assist with the replacement of, or repairs to, a disaster-damaged primary residence in certain circumstances. This assistance is not intended to restore your home to its pre-disaster condition. Instead, grants cover uninsured essentials like doors, windows, a roof, critical utilities, toilets and other necessities. The homeowner may apply for an SBA disaster loan to help with additional repairs beyond what FEMA may provide.
FEMA may also consider funding for hazard mitigation measures, such as roof, furnace, water heater, or main electrical panel mitigation, to help reduce the amount of damage to the home in future disasters, if those items
Financial assistance is available for necessary expenses and serious needs directly caused by the disaster, including:
- Child-care expenses
- Medical and dental expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Damage to essential household items; tools required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, schoolbooks, supplies)
- Fuel for the primary heat source (heating oil, gas)
- Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier)
- Damage to an essential vehicle
- Moving and storage expenses caused by the disaster. This is moving and storage of essential household goods to prevent further damage, such as ongoing repairs, and returning property to the applicant’s primary residence.
- Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA
Everyone Has the Right to Appeal a FEMA Determination
If you receive a determination letter advising you are ineligible for assistance or that your application is incomplete, do not be frustrated or discouraged. Instead, just read the entire letter to find out what’s needed for FEMA to continue processing your application. Many times, it’s a simple fix. You have 60 days from the date on your FEMA decision letter to submit a written appeal and supporting documentation.
Tennessee Tornado Survivors: Avoid Contractor Fraud
- Disasters often bring communities together but con artists, identity thieves and other criminals may target survivors working to rebuild after last December’s severe weather and tornadoes. The most common types of post-disaster fraud include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations, fake offers of municipal or federal aid and charging for free services.
- If you need help day or night, call the local police and the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.
Major Disaster Declaration Amended to Include FEMA Public Assistance
- Thirteen Tennessee counties are now eligible to receive FEMA Public Assistance reimbursement funds to help communities repair and replace damaged infrastructure, public buildings and some facilities operated by private nonprofits, such as houses of worship. The PA declared counties are Cheatham, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Gibson, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Obion, Stewart, Sumner, and Weakley.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans
What is a SBA loan? The SBA offers disaster assistance in the form of low interest loans to businesses, nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters located in regions affected by declared disasters. SBA also provides eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations with working capital to help overcome the economic injury of a declared disaster.
- There is no cost to apply for a SBA disaster loan, or to accept the loan if approved. However, if FEMA refers you to SBA, you must apply before you can be considered for certain kinds of FEMA grant money. If you are not approved for a loan, FEMA may be able to provide grants to cover disaster related expenses for personal property, vehicle repair or replacement and/or moving and storage feed.
- Homeowners may be eligible for a disaster loan up to $200,000 for primary residence structural repairs or rebuilding. SBA may also be able to help homeowners and renters with up to $40,000 to replace important personal property, including automobiles damaged or destroyed in the disaster.
- Businesses and nonprofit organizations may be eligible to borrow up to $2 million for repair costs and disaster related working capital needs.
Read the full press release by FEMA here.
For more information on Tennessee’s disaster recovery, visit www.tn.gov/tema.html and www.fema.gov/disaster/4637. You may also follow FEMA on www.facebook.com/fema and Twitter @FEMARegion4.