Decoding FEMA

If disaster strikes, does your community know what FEMA resources are available to help, and the processes involved to apply for them?

Recent examples with flooding in South Carolina prompted two news outlets to review FEMA procedures with their readers.

After FEMA opened a Federal Emergency Management Agency Mobile Disaster Recovery Center in Lee County, The Sumpter Item that “Representatives from South Carolina Emergency Management Division, FEMA, Small Business Administration and other agencies are at the center to explain disaster assistance programs and help survivors apply for aid. If possible, before going to a disaster recovery center, people with flooding losses should register with FEMA.”

The Times and Democrat advised people to go online to or call 800-621-3362. Lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

“FEMA officials encourage individuals who receive a letter saying they are ineligible for disaster assistance to not give up,” said The Times and Democrat. “FEMA cannot provide money to individuals or households for losses already covered by insurance.”

Both newspapers covered off the option of low-interest disaster loans (under two percent interest) from the Small Business Administration, for homeowner, renter and business uninsured losses. According to The Times and Democrat:

“Survivors and businesses should first register with FEMA and may obtain information on SBA disaster loan applications by calling 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people who are deaf or hard of hearing) or visiting at They may also apply online at FEMA reminds applicants to return completed SBA loan application even if they choose to decline the loan. Completing the loan application is a necessary step if applicants are to be considered for some other forms of disaster assistance.”