Hurricane Ida wreaked widespread havoc in communities, homes and businesses across the country. Following the destruction, President Biden approved a declaration of major disaster for nearly a dozen New Jersey counties, including Gloucester, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union counties.
This frees up funds for some of the hardest hit areas in the region.
FEMA also recently announced that federal disaster assistance is now available to qualified residents of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia and York counties.
If you live in one of these counties and your household has been affected by Ida, you may be eligible for federal assistance for home repairs, finding temporary accommodation, and replacing household items. Here’s how to apply.
To note: If you have insurance, you should file a claim with your insurance company immediately. FEMA assistance does not cover losses already covered by insurance.
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Before asking for help, there are a few initial steps you need to take:
Take photos your damaged home and belongings.
Make a list damaged and lost items.
File a complaint with your insurance company if you have insurance.
You will need these materials to apply:
Social Security number (SSN) or SSN of a minor in the household who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen, or qualified alien
Contact information (phone number, postal address and personal address damaged; if you want to view your registration status online after registering, you will also need to provide an email address)
Proof of identity (see acceptable documents here)
Insurance Information (coverage, name of insurance company, etc.) and insurance determination letter (if insured)
Proof of occupancy or ownership (see acceptable documents here)
bank account information (if you are eligible for financial aid, the money can be deposited into your account)
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There are several ways to ask for help.
If you have internet access, you can register online To disastreassistance.gov or via the FEMA mobile app if you have a smartphone. Enter your city, state, or zip code to make sure you’re eligible for one-on-one assistance. If you are eligible, you will be prompted to complete an application, which will ask you for general information about your income, insurance, and home damage you suffered. The application process takes about 20 minutes, according to FEMA.
You can also apply on the telephone by calling 1-800-621-3362. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech impediment and use a text telephone (TTY), you can call 800-462-7585. If you are using 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), please use the FEMA Standard Help Line (1-800-621-3362).
Your last option is to apply in person by visiting a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). To find locations in the DRC, visit DisasterAssistance.gov, call the FEMA helpline (1-800-621-3362), or check the FEMA mobile app.
FEMA assistance does not replace insurance. But it can provide temporary financial assistance and help with basic needs not covered by insurance for homeowners and tenants.
You can receive money to cover another place to live if your home is uninhabitable and your insurance does not cover temporary accommodation. You may also be eligible for assistance with restore your house to habitable condition.
FEMA only provides the basic needs of a house, such as toilets, roof, essential utilities, windows and doors. You will not receive money to repair or restore things like dishwashers, cabinets, garage doors, or home entertainment systems. FEMA will perform a home inspection to calculate and verify your damage and loss.
You can also get money to help basic needs directly caused by the disaster, such as child care expenses, medical and dental expenses, funeral and burial expenses, clothing, specialized tools, equipment required for a job, necessary school supplies, including computers and textbooks, moving and storage costs, and items such as generators or chainsaws purchased as a result of the disaster. If you have liability insurance, you can get help to replace or repair your car.
After applying, FEMA will review your claim and call you to set a date and time to assess your damages. During the pandemic, FEMA currently performs exterior home inspections only. Interior damage will be discussed and confirmed by phone.
At the time of the inspection, you will be required to provide photo identification, a list of the people living in the house at the time of the disaster, and a list of the damage the disaster caused to your home and personal property.
You will receive a letter or an e-mail (depending on the preference you indicated in your application) explaining if you are eligible for assistance, how much you will receive, how it is to be used, and how to appeal the FEMA decision if you are not agree with it. If your letter indicates that you are not eligible for assistance, you can appeal the decision within 60 days of receiving the letter. If the letter indicates that your application is incomplete, you also have 60 days to complete the missing parts.
The deadlines vary depending on your situation. “There are too many factors to give precise deadlines, from planning inspections to providing documentation,” says Charlie Elison, spokesperson for FEMA. “There are FEMA disaster assistance processing centers across the country with hard-working staff to process requests in a timely manner.”
You can check the status of your request online (disasterassistance.gov), by phone (1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 TTY), or with a FEMA Disaster Survivor Support Specialist.
If you have any additional questions, FEMA representatives are available by phone 7 days a week, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. (1 800 621-3362 or 1 800 462-7585 TTY).
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