OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraskans in nine counties affected by floods are immediately eligible to apply for state and federal disaster assistance to help jump-start recovery.
President Trump made assistance available Thursday after approving an Expedited Major Disaster Declaration request from Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. The declaration is designed to help with costs associated with the state's recent severe weather.
A press release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says it's as easy as a 20-minute phone call or a click online.
Residents of Butler, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Nemaha, Sarpy, Saunders, and Washington counties who were impacted by flooding, severe winter storms, or harsh winds that began March 9 are eligible now to apply for this assistance. More counties may be added as more damage assessment information is received.
The assistance can help in various areas -- including help with temporary repairs to disaster-damaged houses, paying for short-term housing while permanent repairs are being made, and/or help with serious needs related to the disaster that aren't already covered by other programs.
Here's how to start your recovery, according to FEMA:
- Report your damage to your local emergency manager. This helps provide information about locations and extent of damage that can be used to assess additional recovery needs for your jurisdiction.
- Call your insurance agent to see if there is coverage for your losses under a traditional homeowner’s or renter’s policy, or under a flood insurance policy.
- Document your damage. Take photos or video. Make lists of damaged items.
- Register with FEMA. The process is free, takes about 20 minutes and is available three ways:
- Register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov [fema.pr-optout.com].
- Use your smartphone to register through http://m.FEMA.gov [fema.pr-optout.com] ; click “Apply Online for FEMA Assistance,” and you will be directed to www.DisasterAssistance.gov [fema.pr-optout.com].
- Register by phone using FEMA’s toll-free registration line by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY call 800-462-7585; or use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) to call 1-800-621-3362. Telephone registration is available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
- Be ready to register. When calling the FEMA number, be prepared to provide your current address, the address of the damaged property, contact information where FEMA can reach you, social security number, the makeup of your household (occupants), insurance and income information.
- Register, even if you are insured. Your insurance may not cover everything and some damage may not show up until later. Do not wait until you have settled with your insurer to register with FEMA.
What happens after an application is submitted, according to FEMA:
Individuals with residential damage will be referred for an inspection of their house or apartment to to see if there is damage that may be eligible for FEMA assistance.
- A contracted FEMA inspector will call ahead of time and make an appointment. Be sure to keep that appointment. The inspection cannot take place without a responsible adult with proof of ownership or rental on the premises. If you cannot make the appointment, call FEMA at 800-621-3362, and choose the Helpline option to set up a new appointment.
- The inspector will come out and visually look at the damage, reviewing your records and make notes of the impacts. This process generally takes 30-40 minutes and consists of looking at disaster-damaged areas of your home and reviewing your records.
- The inspector will ask to see:
-Photo identification.-Proof of ownership/occupancy of damaged residence such as homeowner’s insurance, a tax bill, mortgage-payment book or utility bill.
-Insurance documents: home and/or auto (structural insurance/auto declaration sheet).
-List of household occupants living in residence at time of disaster.
-Disaster-related damage to both real and personal property.
- That information is electronically transmitted to FEMA for evaluation to see if there are programs that can help defray costs associated with the damage or repairs.
- The inspector will not be able to provide a determination at that time of how much assistance you may receive, nor will they condemn property. Their job is to document the damage for consideration of disaster recovery programs. The determination is made after the review of documented damage.
- All FEMA inspectors will have photo ID FEMA badges. It’s OK to ask to see that ID if it is not readily visible. If the inspector cannot produce a FEMA ID, don’t provide personal information or let him/her into your house. Report the person to local law enforcement immediately.
- FEMA housing inspections are free. There is no cost for the inspector or the results.
During the recovery process, those who applied may receive a visit from more than one inspector. Along with FEMA-contracted housing inspectors, representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as state and local officials could visit neighborhoods in impacted areas.
Within seven to 10 days after the inspection, FEMA will send a determination letter with the eligibility decision.
The letter will state the dollar amount of the grant and how money must be used for those who are eligible. Those who disagree with FEMA's decision may appeal.
For more information, contact FEMA at 800-621-3362. More details can also be found online here.