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Here’s what flood victims need to know about applying for FEMA financial assistance

San Diegans and the thousands of households affected by the Jan. 22 flooding are encouraged to register for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The assistance, which has an application deadline near, can help residents secure longer-term housing and fund assistance with rent, home repairs and other costs caused by fire damage. floods. Residents have until April 19 to apply.

Here’s everything they need to know.

Am I eligible for FEMA funding?

The Biden administration declared an emergency in California on February 19, making federal funding available to San Diego County and allowing all qualified residents to apply for FEMA assistance.

Eligibility is based on several factors, including whether the applicant’s post-disaster expenses or necessary needs are not covered by insurance, or whether their insurance does not cover enough – or any – of their expenses. Residents can submit receipts with their application to prove their expenses.

How can I apply?

Before applying, applicants must have the following information: a social security number (one per household), address of the damaged residence, description of the damage, telephone number, mailing address, email address for notifications, insurance information if applicable and a bank account and routing number for direct deposit.

There are several ways to apply, including online at DisasterAssistance.gov.

People can also apply using the FEMA Mobile App or by calling 1-800-621-3362, available daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with multilingual operators

Apply in person at San Diego County’s two disaster recovery centers, located at the Mountain View Recreation Center, 641 S. Boundary St., and the Spring Valley County Library, 836 Kempton St. Both are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.

Maria Padron, a FEMA spokeswoman, said three FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are also going door to door to encourage residents to seek help.

What happens next?

Applicants should expect to hear from a FEMA inspector within 10 days to discuss the damage. Padron said the inspector will call three times before an application is withdrawn, although a reschedule is possible if the applicant requests another appointment.

FEMA calls may appear under a “probable scam” or out-of-state phone number. If candidates miss the call, they can call back the number or call the helpline at 1-800-621-3362.

The inspector will check property or rental agreements, check for items that have been damaged, and determine the height of the watermark in the home. If residents have already started cleaning and repairing their homes, the inspector will need to see photos and receipts of work already done to verify the damage.

So far, FEMA has conducted more than 4,500 inspection visits, Padron said.

FEMA will send decision letters to applicants by mail or through their DisasterAssistance.gov account. The letter will indicate how a household can spend the financial assistance, which will be deposited into the applicant’s bank account or sent by check.

What can the financing be used for and how soon can I access it?

Depending on the needs outlined in a household’s application, disaster assistance grants may be used for housing assistance, including rental assistance, temporary housing, home repairs or replacement. Households can also use financing for other costs related to flood damage that are not covered by insurance, such as damage to personal property, transportation, funeral expenses, medical care and custody. children.

FEMA encourages households to keep receipts for at least three years to show how funds were used in the event of a future audit.

My application was refused or I did not receive sufficient financial assistance. How to appeal?

There are several reasons why an application may be denied, Padron said, such as if a signature is missing or the applicant did not include receipts for work already done on their home.

They may also be denied if they have not made an appointment with the FEMA inspector or if the resident has not reported enough damage to their home. FEMA can also deny an application if authorities are unable to verify a resident’s identity.

If the request is denied, flood victims have 60 days to appeal FEMA’s decision. File an appeal online via DisasterAssistance.gov account; by mail to FEMA National Processing Service Center, PO Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055; or by fax to 800-827-8112 (Attention FEMA).

In addition to a written appeal letter, applicants must also attach any documentation to support their case, such as an insurance settlement or denial, receipts, contractor estimates, or mechanic statements .

FEMA funding is only available to legal citizens. What if I am undocumented?

FEMA assistance is limited to U.S. citizens, but a household may still qualify if an adult member of the household is a U.S. citizen and is able to certify their citizenship status during the registration process.

In another case, an undocumented parent or guardian of a child under 18 who is a U.S. citizen can apply for FEMA financial assistance on behalf of the child, if they live in the same household.

Flood victims who are undocumented can also visit one of two disaster recovery centers and speak with a representative from the Voluntary Disaster Assistance Organizations (VOAD), who can help them access resources community, identify their needs and eligibility and help connect them. with construction resources to rebuild their homes.

I need help with my application or have additional questions. Who can I turn to?

There is a free legal clinic for flood victims offered every Wednesday for the next three months at 7 p.m. at the Mental Bar (6325 Imperial Ave.), where an attorney can help applicants navigate the application process and FEMA appeal, evictions, insurance appeals and small claims.

SBP, a national disaster recovery organization, also offers free assistance to applicants appealing their FEMA decision letter, as well as assistance to individuals who applied for an SBA loan or those who did not have a home or tenant insurance. Contact SBP at 1 (800) 276-9511 or femahelp@sbpusa.org and go to sbpusa.org/gethelp for more information.

What other help is there for me?

Flood victims can access resources offered through VOAD, including free assistance with recovery efforts such as cleaning, mitigation and home repairs.

Volunteers will help flood victims with cleanups, rebuilding and more.

VOAD volunteers can also help connect residents to community resources such as food and medical and mental health support, as well as provide donated items to residents while they rebuild their homes. Register to receive services here or call (619) 673-8780.

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