Disaster recovery advice from FEMA can help

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:41

    New Jersey residents seeking federal disaster assistance will find that sometimes it's not as simple as registering, waiting a few days and then getting a check in the mail. "We know you've been through a lot," said FEMA's federal coordinating officer William L. Vogel. "The process is intended to be simple, but there are checks and balances in the system that can be frustrating." Registering for assistance is just the first step. After that, it's important to take an active role in the process, ask questions, and keep in touch, Vogel said. Here's some advice from the experts: Write down and keep the nine-digit FEMA registration number Meet with the housing inspector Complete and return the SBA application immediately if you receive one Read all letters carefully Call the Helpline if you receive anything from FEMA that you do not understand Call FEMA to let them know about any changes in your address, phone number, or insurance payments If you haven't heard from FEMA in two weeks, call FEMA's helpline — 800-621-3362 (FEMA) — is available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Multilingual operators are available. Assistance is also available online anytime at www.disasterassistance.gov or m.fema.gov. "FEMA's goal is to ensure that survivors who are eligible for assistance will get every dollar to which they are entitled," said Lt. Paul Miller of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. "If you feel you've run into a roadblock, don't hesitate to reach out for help. Call the Helpline or visit a Disaster Recovery Center." To date, more than 35,000 New Jersey residents have been approved for grants and low-interest loans that total nearly $137 million. "FEMA personnel are here to help," said Vogel. "Keep in touch. Use the Helpline. You'll get answers to your questions and help with understanding the assistance process and ways to move your personal recovery forward." To find the nearest Disaster Recovery Center call the helpline or go to FEMA DRC Locator.