GEMA: Tornado Victims May Have More Help

WNRR Augusta – (FEMA Press Release)



ATLANTAIf applicants for disaster assistance receive a letter saying their initial request for aid has been denied, it often means that one or more aspects of the application require further information or correction. Receipt of this letter does not necessarily mean “case closed.”


One of the most common causes for denial is because applicants stated they had insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must deny aid until an insurance settlement is reached. FEMA assistance programs are not intended to duplicate insurance compensation or cover deductibles for disaster-related loss or damage.


After the insurance settlement, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 800-462-7585 for the hearing-and speech-impaired, to update an application. The Helpline is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week until further notice. If a final settlement does not adequately cover all disaster-related losses, underinsured applicants may request that FEMA review their application to determine if they are eligible for some form of aid.


FEMA recovery specialists are also available to talk face-to-face with registered applicants at either of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Outreach Centers (DLOCs) currently operating. When visiting a center, providing a copy of the settlement letter helps recovery specialists in preparing an update or appeal to an existing application.


In Fulton County , an SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center , also serving DeKalb County residents and businesses, is located at City Hall East, 675 Ponce de Leon Avenue N.E. (fifth floor) in Atlanta . Hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., until further notice.


In Polk County , a DLOC serving residents of Bartow, Floyd and Polk counties is at the Polk County Emergency Management Office, 55 Cline Ingram Jackson Road , Cedartown. Hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center will cease operations Friday, April 18 at close of business.


 Other reasons FEMA might send a denial letter could be that the following essential information was not provided, completed or returned by the applicant:

  • The SBA disaster loan application;
  • Records showing the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster;
  • Acceptable evidence of identity, documentation of disaster damage, or proof of ownership of the damaged property; or
  • Signatures on certain documents.


SBA Disaster Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate.  Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. The SBA can also lend additional funds to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.


Other programs that may still provide some form of assistance are Disaster Unemployment Assistance, legal and tax assistance, and voluntary agency assistance.


Any Georgia resident with questions or concerns about how a private insurance carrier has responded to a disaster-related damage claim should contact the Georgia Commissioner of Insurance’s Enforcement Division at 404-656-2060, or visit the department’s web site at


FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.


Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, economic status or retaliation. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, you should call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact your State Office of Equal Rights. If suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the fraud hotline at 800-323-8603.


SBA’s disaster loans are the primary form of federal assistance for non-farm, private sector disaster losses. Disaster loans from SBA help homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and nonprofit organizations fund repair and replacement of disaster damaged real and personal property.  These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For information about SBA programs, applicants may call 800-659-2955 or online at


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