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Find Out Here How to Apply For Federal Disaster Help Before Deadline

The countdown begins again toward the April 1st disaster assistance application deadline and it’s expected to be the final extension given for those who sustained damage during Superstorm Sandy.

FEMA Help Desk Representative Robin Smith says even though there’s only a week to go … they’re still getting between 35 and 75 new disaster assistance registrants a day. Smith believes that’s because there may be some confusion over exactly who’s eligible.

“Some of the people who are calling now, we’re finding out, are renters and they had no idea that they were able to call and apply. They thought it was simply for homeowners and we actually do help renters with some of the contents of their homes as well.” Smith says people on Fixed incomes can also apply without fear of its impact on their assistance. Another category includes the people who are not U.S. Citizens but have Children who are. She says they can apply on behalf of their children.

However, Smith warns that FEMA is not like having Flood or Homeowner’s Insurance. “The program that Congress has put through, that is what FEMA does that basically it’s a life preserver, not a life boat. It is to get you back to safe and sanitary.”

She says there may also be federal grants available that help homeowners who sustained significant damage and who may need to do mitigation work. Smith says there’s a process for that that they can walk you through but the most important step is to first apply for FEMA assistance prior to the deadline. The SBA loan application deadline is also April 1st. You can also apply for an SBA Loan on line at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

You can apply online by going to www.disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-3362. There are several FEMA Disaster Centers also open through out the State with staff on hand to assist you. To find a Center near you call the SBA Customer Service Line at 800-659-2955.

Smith also issues a warning about Scammers posing as FEMA staffers to obtain your personal information. She warns that when FEMA, the Small Business Administration or Flood Insurance staffers call they’ll only ask you to identify yourself by the last four digits of your Social Security number. They will not ask you for your full Social Security number or bank account numbers. They also won’t recommend specific contractors. She advises that if you get those kinds of calls to either contact Police, the FEMA Fraud Hotline 800 323 8603 or the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 800 242 5846 and report it.

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