Sept. 13 is the deadline to register for disaster assistance for those affected by flooding in March. The deadline applies to both the Federal Emergency Management Agency individual assistance grants and the low interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Association.
FEMA disaster assistance for qualified homeowners and renters may help pay for basic repairs to make a home habitable, provide temporary rental assistance and aid with serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance.
There are three ways to register for assistance:
• Online: www.disasterassistance.gov
• Phone: 800-621-3362; phone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week
• App: Download the FEMA disaster app here: www.fema.gov/mobile-app
Scam artists and identity thieves often try to take advantage of victims following any type of disaster. Common fraudulent schemes include over-the-phone or in-person requests for personal information as well as fake offers of federal aid.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and FEMA provide these tips to avoid scams:
- Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA representatives are required by law to present a laminated photo ID. A FEMA hat, shirt or jacket is not proof of identity.
- Federal workers do no solicit or accept money. FEMA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help to fill out applications. FEMA inspectors verify damage, but do not involve themselves in any aspect of hte repair nor recommend any contractor.
- Verify a home inspection by requesting to see the FEMA employee's identification badge or by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 to confirm an appointment. The job of FEMA housing inspectors is to verify damage. Inspectors do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. They do not determine eligibility for assistance.
- FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams may be in your community providing information and assisting people in registering with FEMA or updating their files. The teams coordinate their activities with local emergency managers and make local law enforcement agencies aware of their presence. The teams always consist of at least two people and may include employees from NEMA and FEMA. They will also be wearing FEMA or NEMA shirts and laminated photo IDs. Disaster Survivor Assistance teams never ask for or accept payment for their services.
- Verify charitable solicitations by asking for the charity's exact name, street address, phone number and web address. Call the charity directly and confirm that the person asking for funds is an employee or volunteer before donating.
- If you suspect fraudulent activity or question the validity of a request for identifiable information, please report the individual(s) to local law enforcement, call NEMA at 402-471-7421, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or visit www.protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov/file-consumer-complaint.