On 22 January, FEMA released additional information for those homeowners and businesses still seeking relief from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy. To qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a survivor of Hurricane Sandy must meet certain conditions.
First, the individual or household losses must have occurred in an area covered by the presidential disaster declaration for New York, which includes 13 counties:
•Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester. The North Country was largely spared from Sandy's effects.
The survivor must also register with FEMA. There are several ways to do this:
- Via smartphone or tablet, go to m.fema.gov or download the FEMA app.
- Call 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585.
- For 7-1-1Relay or Video Relay Services (VRS), call 800-621-3362.
- The toll-free telephone numbers operate 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week until further notice.
- A FEMA Language Assistance Line is available for those who need interpretation services in languages other than English or Spanish. Call: 866-333-1796.
The deadline to register with FEMA is Jan. 28 in New York.
If the applicant has insurance, he or she must file a claim with the insurance company.
For housing assistance
- The damage to the property is not covered by insurance or the insurance settlement is insufficient to cover the losses.
- The applicant or someone who lives in the household is a citizen of the United States, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
- The applicant must have a valid Social Security number.
- The damaged home is where the applicant usually lives and was living at the time of the disaster.
A survivor may not be eligible for housing assistance if:
- The home that was damaged is a secondary or vacation residence.
- Expenses resulted only from leaving the home as a precaution and the applicant was able to return to the home immediately after the incident.
- The applicant has refused assistance from his or her insurance provider.
- The only losses are business losses.
- The damaged home is located in a designated flood hazard area and the applicant’s community is not participating in the National Flood Insurance Program.
- In this case, the flood damage to the home would not be covered, but the applicant may qualify for rental assistance or assistance for items not covered by flood insurance.
You may qualify for some relief from your taxes as well. The tax laws allow taxpayers who itemize their deductions to get a tax break for losses they suffer from natural disasters. However, the way that the IRS defines a loss is different from what you might expect. Rather than looking at repair costs, the IRS defines a casualty loss as the amount by which the fair market value of your property decreased as a result of the storm (http://aol.it/VuZLg4).
See http://www.irs.gov/publications/p547/index.html for more details.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.