FEMA – Who, What, When, and How of Filing Claims

Our deepest sympathy goes out to everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey and the devastation it caused.  For our clients, colleagues, and any others who may have been affected, we have put together some information about resources that are available to help individuals, families, and businesses.  This is not meant to be exhaustive, but just a starting point.

What is FEMA and who may receive FEMA assistance?

Federal Emergency Management Assistance (FEMA) is available to individuals, families, and non-farm businesses located in an area declared to be a Major Disaster Area.

How to apply for FEMA assistance:

The single most important step to obtaining federal disaster assistance is to register with FEMA as soon as possible and no later than 60 days after the declaration of the disaster.  Hurricane Harvey was declared a Major Disaster on August 25, 2017.   Those seeking relief must register with FEMA no later than October 24, 2017.

  • Register online for Disaster Assistance. The website also has other useful information, such as:
    • how to file a claim if you have flood insurance policy
    • emergency phone numbers
    • safety tips
    • information about emergency management offices in Texas and Louisiana
  • If you do not have Internet access, you can call 800-621-FEMA (hearing impaired 800.462.7585).

If possible, gather important information before you make the call, such as phone numbers and insurance coverage details. FEMA will need this information to process your application.  When you register you will need to supply reliable contact information.  If you have been displaced from your home, you may consider registering using your work address to ensure delivery of materials.

What type of assistance does FEMA provide?

Depending on your situation, FEMA may provide:

  • direct temporary housing for displaced individuals and families
  • home repair assistance

Other Federal Resources

Loans for small non-farm businesses.  The Small Business Administration provides low-interest long-term disaster loans to repair and replace real and personal property for non-farm businesses.  You can apply for a loan on the SBA website.

Farm disaster assistance.  Individuals who have suffered farm-related losses can apply for assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Disaster unemployment assistance.  Financial help and employment services are available to persons to become unemployed as a direct result of a declared major disaster and or otherwise ineligible for regular state unemployment compensation.

Private Insurance

You should also make written claims under insurance policies that may provide coverage for damage to your property.  Jackson Walker has prepared a separate list of Hurricane Harvey: Insurance FAQs.  This list also includes links to helpful resources from the Texas Department of Insurance and the National Flood Insurance Program.

For more information, contact Mark Walters or Sara Harris.