Loans can help fill gap left by insurance
Residents of Sonoma County who suffered damage or losses from the devastating fires that began Oct. 8, 2017 can now register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), if they are able to do so.
The amendment to the presidential disaster declaration of Oct. 9, 2017 also makes federal assistance available to eligible individuals and business owners in Sonoma County. Damage assessments are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated.
Survivors who primarily reside in Sonoma County can apply online at disasterassistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Applicants will be asked for the following information:
- Social Security number
- Address of the damaged primary residence
- Description of the damage
- Information about insurance coverage
- A current contact telephone number
- An address where they can receive mail
- Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds
- Disaster assistance for homeowners and renters may include grants to help pay for:
- Temporary housing
- Essential home repairs
- Uninsured and underinsured personal property losses
- Other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance.
Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available for businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries.
FEMA grants do not have to be repaid. FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.
Registering with FEMA is required for federal aid, even if a survivor has registered with another disaster-relief organization, such as the American Red Cross.
Survivors should register even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but underinsured applicants may receive help after their claims have been settled.