Can you get federal relief for natural disasters?


FEMA's Individual and Households Program provides federal relief for natural disasters by way of funds, temporary housing, and other assistance in the wake of a federally-declared natural disaster. If you have emergency medical needs following a natural disaster, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. For other immediate needs, contact a local shelter for help.

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UPDATED: 2021-12-22T18:17:13.657Z
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What You Should Know

  • FEMA offers assistance to individuals and families following federally-declared natural disasters
  • Assistance after a natural disaster includes money, housing, home repairs, and more
  • FEMA assistance does not include emergency medical assistance or other immediate needs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a clear outline of how it handles federal relief for natural disasters in the wake of a federally-declared natural disaster.

If you are impacted by a natural disaster — like a tornado or a hurricane — you may qualify for help from FEMA's Individual and Households Program (IHP).

Victims of natural disasters are eligible for several different types of assistance, though there are some needs that FEMA's IHP is not authorized to meet.

What help will FEMA's program provide?

FEMA's Individual and Households Program was developed to help meet basic needs for individuals and households after a federally-declared natural disaster.

Though IHP is not an insurance program and was not designed to cover all losses related to a natural disaster, some of the assistance provided by the program includes:

  • Money for temporary housing
  • A temporary housing unit
  • Money to repair or replace homes
  • Money to cover needs that your homeowners insurance company won't cover
  • Money for hazard mitigation assistance

If you've experienced a natural disaster and would like to seek help from FEMA, you can check with the organization to see whether you're eligible for assistance.

Are there things FEMA won't help with?

Though FEMA's goal through IHP is to help people in need in the wake of a natural disaster, there are some services the organization is not authorized to provide, such as:

  • Emergency medical assistance
  • Emergency shelter
  • Other immediate needs

If you have emergency medical needs for which you need assistance, call 9-1-1 immediately. For other immediate needs, you can call the Red Cross or any local shelters to see how they might be able to lend a hand.

Is it easy to apply for natural disaster relief from FEMA?

Before you can apply for natural disaster assistance with FEMA, you will need to follow a few steps to ensure that you are eligible. You will need to:

  1. Take pictures of your home or belongings that are damaged
  2. Make a thorough list of your damaged items
  3. File a claim with your insurance company, if applicable
  4. Finally, apply for disaster relief with FEMA

To apply with FEMA online or with your smartphone, you can visit DisasterAssistance.gov or download the relevant application form on FEMA’s mobile app.

You can also call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) to apply for assistance over the phone. If you use a text telephone because of hearing impairment, you can call 1-800-462-7585.

Lastly, you can apply for relief in person by visiting a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center.

What happens if FEMA denies my disaster relief claim?

If FEMA denies your application for disaster relief, you can submit an appeal to their decision within 60 days of the date of your eligibility letter. In your appeal, discuss why you believe FEMA's decision was incorrect or unjust.

You will want to provide different documents in order to support your appeal. Be sure to include your full name, your FEMA application number, your pre-disaster address, and your current phone number.

You can submit your appeal to: FEMA P.O. Box 10055 Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055

Dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster can feel extremely overwhelming. Applying for federal relief for natural disasters is one way to seek out help when you need it most.

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