FAQs on Federal Disaster Declaration and Assistance

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1 FAQs on Federal Disaster Declaration and Assistance 1. What does this federal disaster declaration mean? Federal assistance was authorized under a Major Federal Disaster Declaration issued by President Barack Obama on June 15 th after Governor Patrick requested aid for those most impacted by the June 1, 2011 tornadoes and storms. The President s declaration makes Individual Assistance (IA) programs available to eligible homeowners, renters and businesses in both Hampden and Worcester Counties and Public Assistance (PA) in Hampden County. FEMA continues to evaluate the damage data and supporting information related to Public Assistance requested for the communities of Southbridge and Sturbridge in Worcester County. This declaration also allows FEMA to provide reimbursement for a portion of the storm-related infrastructure damage, debris removal and emergency response costs incurred by local communities, eligible private non-profit organizations and state agencies. 2. How do I get assistance? Individuals and business owners who need assistance, MUST register with FEMA before they can receive any assistance. You can register online at by phone at FEMA (3362) or (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired; or by visiting one of the nine Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC). 3. What assistance is available to me as a homeowner or renter? Under the Individual Assistance programs, a homeowner or renter may qualify for emergency funding to make repairs on an existing home; limited cash assistance for emergency items including clothing, food and toiletries; and funding for up to 18 months of temporary housing. Various types of Homeowner and Renter Assistance may also available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) after a federal disaster declaration is made. Under the SBA, eligible renters and homeowners may borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace clothing, furniture, cars or appliances damaged or destroyed in the disaster. Homeowners may apply for up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence to its pre-disaster condition. SBA applications can be made online at after you have registered for FEMA Assistance. SBA representatives can also be reached by phone at You will need your FEMA registration number when applying for a SBA loan.

2 4. What if I already have homeowner s insurance? Even if you have homeowner s insurance, you may still qualify for SBA loans. Any funding you receive from insurance coverage on your property or home will be deducted from the total damage to the property to determine the loan amount you are eligible for. 5. What assistance is available to me as a business owner? There are many types of assistance for business owners available from the SBA after a federal disaster declaration is made, including: o Physical Disaster Loans: Businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations may apply for a Physical Disaster Loan of up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged real estate, equipment, inventory and fixtures. These loans cover uninsured or under-insured losses. o Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and certain private, nonprofit organizations of all sizes suffering substantial economic injury may be eligible for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of up to $2 million to meet necessary financial obligations expenses the business would have paid if the disaster had not occurred. Business owners can file SBA applications online at after registering for FEMA Assistance. SBA representatives can also be reached by phone at You will need your FEMA registration number when applying for a SBA loan. 6. What happens after I apply for help with FEMA? Within about ten 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. Your losses will be recorded and submitted to the 'Individuals & Households Program' (IHP). Within about ten more days, you should have a decision from IHP about whether you qualify for help from the IHP. If you have been referred for a disaster loan from the SBA, the SBA will also contact you and schedule an appointment to review your disaster related losses. 7. How long will it take to get FEMA disaster assistance? If you are eligible for disaster assistance, you should receive a U.S. Treasury check or notification of a deposit to your bank account within about ten days of the inspector s visit. Other types of assistance may be provided later based on specific eligibility and need.

3 8. Does disaster help have to be repaid? Money received through FEMA s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) does not have to be repaid. Loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) must be repaid. 9. What is a DRC and when will they be operational? FEMA will establish Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in each of the nine communities hit hardest by the June 1 storm system. FEMA staff at each of these centers will work to help individuals and businesses in their recovery from the impacts of the severe storms and tornadoes. In addition to FEMA staff, several state agencies will also have representatives at the DRCs to help provide any state assistance that may be available. We expect the DRCs to be operational within hours of the President s Major Federal Disaster Declaration. 10. Where are the DRCs located? The nine DRC locations will be announced by MEMA within hours of the President s Major Federal Disaster Declaration. In the meantime, residents and business owners are encouraged to register for FEMA assistance online at by phone at FEMA (3362) or (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. 11. Will state agencies offering state assistance be present at the DRCs? Yes, in addition to FEMA staff, each of the nine DRCs will have representatives from the Department of Housing and Community Development; the Division of Insurance, the Office of Business Development, MassHealth, Counselors from the Department of Mental Health, Labor and Workforce Development s Rapid Response Team and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Those seeking food assistance from the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) must visit one of the following DTA offices: Springfield: Department of Transitional Assistance Office 95 Liberty Street, Springfield Springfield: Department of Transitional Assistance Office 310 State Street, Springfield Southbridge: Department of Transitional Assistance Office 1 North Street, Southbridge

4 Monson/Palmer: Department of Developmental Service Central/West Regional Office 171 State Avenue, Palmer , , (8am-6pm) (8:30am-4:30pm) 12. Will the Massachusetts Storm Assistance Centers remain open once the DRC s open? Once the DRCs are open and running, the Massachusetts Storm Assistance Centers will transition their operations into the DRCs. State resources currently available at the Storm Assistance Centers will then be available at the DRCs. 13. Do I need to go to a DRC to obtain assistance? No, you can register for federal assistance online at by phone at FEMA (3362) or (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. 14. What is federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance and how do I know if I m eligible? Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is a fully federally funded program that provides financial assistance and employment services to jobless workers and the self-employed when they are unemployed as a direct result of a major natural disaster. For example, if an individual operates a small business out of their home and that home was damaged, rendering the workplace unusable, that individual would be eligible for DUA. Workers who experienced temporarily job loss because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state Unemployment Insurance Benefits, such as selfemployed individuals, may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. DUA consists of weekly payments that are computed in the same way as regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) payments. In order to be eligible for DUA, an individual must first file a regular UI claim. If the individual is determined eligible for a regular UI claim, they must receive regular UI benefits in lieu of DUA benefits. To apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, an individual is strongly encouraged call and file a claim with the DUA at or An individual may also initiate the application process for DUA at one of the DRCs. 15. How can I get food assistance? Those seeking Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) benefits through the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) should visit one of the following locations:

5 o Springfield: Department of Transitional Assistance Office 95 Liberty Street, Springfield o Springfield: Department of Transitional Assistance Office 310 State Street, Springfield o Southbridge: Department of Transitional Assistance Office 1 North Street, Southbridge o Monson/Palmer: Department of Developmental Service Central/West Regional Office 171 State Avenue, Palmer , , (8am-6pm) (8:30am-4:30pm) DTA is asking the US Department of Agriculture for the ability to administer Disaster SNAP benefits, a one-time food assistance benefit for eligible households in certain communities affected by the tornadoes and storms. If Disaster SNAP is approved, DTA will provide information about eligibility and the application process. 16. There have been a lot of natural disasters happening across the country lately. Will this impact the ability of the federal government to award us funding? No, we expect to receive the full amount of available funds needed to cover damage costs incurred during the June 1 storms. 17. If I qualify for temporary housing funds, where will that housing be located? The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will make every attempt to locate available housing units as close to each resident s home community as possible. However, due of the amount of housing units lost, DHCD may ask some residents to consider temporary housing that is not in their home community. DHCD is working with local housing partners and private landlords alike to prepare a list of available housing options. 17. Does FEMA provide funds for clean-up and removal of debris, including trees, from private property? FEMA may cover severe damage to private property caused by fallen trees, and branches, but FEMA does not cover the removal and/or cleanup of downed trees and other debris from private property. The state is working with local officials in tornado-affected communities to assess the scope of debris clean-up, and will continue to coordinate with local partners on debris removal efforts.

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