Matthew, Hermine Survivors: FEMA Assistance Helps Bridge the Gap

Florida hurricane survivors may be eligible for FEMA assistance to help supplement insurance claims or fill unmet needs. The FEMA Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides financial help or direct assistance in the form of grants for both homeowners and renters. The maximum amount of assistance provided by these grants is limited, and is not intended to restore your home to pre-storm condition. These funds can be used to pay for temporary housing or emergency home repairs to make sure your residence is safe and sanitary.

FEMA grants do not have to be repaid. FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.

By law, FEMA assistance cannot duplicate assistance received from an insurance settlement. Secondary homes or rental properties are ineligible for this program. Federal guidelines only allow housing assistance to be used on primary residences affected by disaster.

Before starting repairs or rebuilding a home, it is important to contact your local building code official or floodplain manager. Visit floridadisaster.org/Mitigation/index.htm for free information on rebuilding and repairing safer and stronger.

Renters and homeowners with insurance should contact their insurance agent right away to file a claim. Insurance is the main source of recovery funding for disaster related losses, but if insurance does not cover all expenses, disaster programs may be able to help.

If a decision on your insurance settlement is delayed longer than 30 days from the time you filed a claim, you will need to write a letter to FEMA explaining the circumstance. Include:

  • Proof from the insurance company that you filed the claim;
  • The claim number;
  • Date you filed your claim;
  • An estimate of how long it will take to receive your settlement.

While waiting for a settlement decision, any help awarded by FEMA would be considered an advance and must be repaid once an insurance settlement is received. Even if you are insured you should apply for disaster assistance with FEMA. Survivors in the designated counties may register for assistance the following ways:

  • Online at gov
  • Phone 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS-Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).
  • At a Disaster Recovery Center. To find the nearest one, go online to the Disaster Recovery Center Locator at fema.gov/inter/locator.

For more help understanding FEMA’s disaster assistance program download the free guide Help After a Disaster at fema.gov/help-after-disaster. For more information on Florida’s disaster recovery, visit fema.gov/disaster/4280, fema.gov/disaster/4283, twitter.com/femaregion4, facebook.com/FEMA, and fema.gov/blog, floridadisaster.org or #FLRecovers. For imagery, video, graphics and releases, see fema.gov/Hurricane-Matthew.