Matthew Survivors: Answers Are Just a Phone Call Away

December 14, 2016  
Mayor Curry comforting a homeowner who suffered damage to her home from Hurricane Matthew

Although the registration deadline for Hurricane Matthew ends on December 16, 2016, survivors are reminded that FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will still be available to answer questions and provide assistance to applicants with unmet needs or needs not met by insurance settlements.

While not everyone who applies for federal disaster assistance will qualify for aid, the appeals process will make sure you receive every bit of the federal disaster aid for which you are legally eligible.
An applicant has 60 days from the date on FEMA’s determination letter to file an appeal. The determination letter describes the amount and type of assistance being offered.
A determination letter may state the application is missing information such as verification of occupancy of the damaged property, documentation of disaster damage, proof of identity or what is covered under an insurance policy.
If addresses or phone numbers change they should be updated with FEMA as soon as possible. Missing or erroneous information could result in delays in getting a home inspection or receiving assistance.
If you disagree with FEMA’s decision or have questions about the appeals process call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (voice/711/VRS-Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish). The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
More information on the FEMA appeals process can be found in the FEMA booklet, “Help after a Disaster: Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals & Households Program.” This free booklet is available in numerous languages for download at
The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property, offering low-interest disaster assistance loans to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters.
FEMA Other Needs Assistance (ONA) grants may cover uninsured losses for furniture, appliances and other personal property, even vehicles. Survivors may not be considered for this type of assistance unless they have completed and returned an SBA loan application. Some types of ONA — medical, dental and funeral expenses — are not SBA dependent, and completing the loan application is not required.
Volunteer, faith- and community-based organizations may also be available to fill gaps in recovery. FEMA encourages you to contact these groups as they may provide essential long-term recovery resources through disaster recovery.
For more information on Florida’s disaster recovery, visit,,, and, or #FLRecovers. For imagery, video, graphics and releases, see