Op-Ed: How FEMA can help you
Assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is available to help individuals and families affected by Hurricanes Irma and María take care of necessary expenses and serious needs that are not covered by insurance or other forms of assistance.
Assistance may include:
- Critical Needs Assistance (CNA): Immediate or critical needs include, but aren’t limited to water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items, and fuel for transportation.
- Personal Property: Assistance to repair or replace common household items including furnishings and appliances.
- Medical/Dental: Assistance to pay for medical or dental expenses caused by the disaster. This includes hospital and ambulance services, and medication replacement.
- Funeral: Assistance for expenses incurred due to a death caused by the disaster. Expenses include the cost of a casket or urn and funeral services.
- Childcare: Assistance for increased child care costs for children aged 13 and under, or children with a disability aged 14 to 18.
- Miscellaneous Expenses: Assistance to purchase specific items approved by the State, Tribe or Territory. They may include items such as a wet/dry vacuum, chainsaw, or dehumidifier.
- Moving and Storage Expenses: Assistance to temporarily relocate and store personal property from the damaged primary residence while repairs are made.
Housing assistance may be provided in the form of:
- Rental Assistance: Financial assistance to rent temporary housing while disaster-caused repairs are made to your primary residence, or while you move to permanent housing.
- Home Repair: Financial assistance to homeowners to repair uninsured home damage caused by the disaster. The assistance is intended to repair your home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition.
- Home Replacement: Financial assistance for homeowners who must replace or rebuild their primary residence as a result of the disaster.
FEMA also provides grants to Puerto Rico that can help individuals and families with needs including:
- Crisis Counseling: Assists individuals and communities recovered from the effects of a disaster through community-based outreach and educational services.
- Disaster Legal Services: Provides free legal assistance to low income individuals who are unable to secure legal services to meet their disaster-related needs. Those affected by the disaster in Puerto Rico can call 1-800-310-7029 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. local time Monday through Friday.
- Disaster Unemployment Assistance: Provides unemployment benefits to individuals who have lost jobs because of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Unemployed individuals in Vieques should visit the Centro de Servicios Integrados. Unemployed individuals in the other 77 municipalities must register with the neareast Negociado de Seguridad de Empleo del Departamento del Trabajo y Recursos Humanos or in the nearest office of Area de Desarrollo Laboral from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Disaster Case Management Program: Program to establish a partnership between a case manager and disaster survivor to develop a Disaster Recovery Plan for the survivor to address disaster-caused unmet needs.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and renters. You do not need to own a business to apply for a disaster loan.
For more information about applying for a disaster loan or about assistance from other federal partners, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or call 1-800-621-3362.