ATLANTA – While there was nothing Georgians could do to stop the rain that started Sept.18 and triggered devastating floods across 17 counties, there is plenty those with losses can do – with the help of state and federal disaster assistance – to speed recovery:
Register and File
• File your insurance claim and register for state and federal disaster aid. Those with disaster-related damages should call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) registration line at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585. Phone lines are available 7 a.m. to
10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. Help is available in all languages. Online registration is available at all times at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
• Register, even if you are insured. Your insurance coverage may not be adequate to cover all of your losses.
• Keep your information up to date. Use the Helpline option at the FEMA registration toll-free number to update your contact information, including a new address or phone number.
• Visit a Disaster Recovery Center for answers to your questions. Find the nearest disaster recovery center by calling FEMA’s Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362).
• Complete and return the SBA loan application even if you do not own a business. If you received a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan application when you registered for disaster assistance, you should fill it out and return it. The loan application is a necessary step for homeowners and renters to getting some federal disaster assistance. Homeowners and renters who don’t qualify for an SBA loan may be eligible for a FEMA grant. But the SBA loan application must be submitted first. SBA representatives at disaster recovery centers will help complete your loan application as well as answer any of your questions.
• A second reason to complete the SBA loan application. Recovering from a disaster may require more funds than a home or business owner realizes at first. For example, you may discover mold in your home or office that has to be professionally removed. Applicants are not obligated to accept the loan just because they are approved. At any time, they can ask that it be canceled. You have up to six months to reopen your SBA loan if you discover later on there are disaster related problems.
• Read all FEMA letters and documents. After registering with FEMA, you will get a letter telling you the outcome of your application. Federal assistance may have to be repaid if it is duplicated by insurance or other assistance received.
Be Smart In Your Recovery
• Invest “sweat equity” in rebuilding your life. Dry out and disinfect your residence to prevent long-term problems with mold and mildew.
• Visit the Disaster Recovery Center in your community to learn what help is available from non-profit organizations and government agencies other than FEMA.
• Choose a licensed contractor. Take time to carefully choose a contractor for repairs by demanding written estimates, following up with references, checking with the local Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) for complaints and checking with local licensing authorities to see if the contractor is licensed in your community.
• Ask for a written estimate. Make sure it includes everything you expect the contractor to do. Also, find out up-front if the contractor will charge a fee for that estimate.
• Get a written contract. The contract should clearly state all work, costs and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. It may also be worthwhile to have an attorney look at the contract before signing it.
The counties under the disaster declaration for Individual Assistance are Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Heard, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Stephens and Walker.