Disaster survivors with disabilities or access and functional needs affected by Hurricane Irma can find many resources to assist in applying for federal disaster assistance.
Services for access and functional needs
FEMA offers services and technologies to support survivors with disabilities and access and functional needs through the disaster assistance process. FEMA can provide sign language interpreters and materials in alternate formats (such as Braille, large print and electronic formats) upon request. FEMA has amplified telephones, phones that display text and amplified listening devices for people with hearing loss. Magnifiers are available for people with vision loss.
Accessible Disaster Recovery Centers
Disaster Recovery Centers are accessible facilities survivors can visit to speak face-to-face with representatives from the state, FEMA, SBA, and other recovery partners. The centers are equipped with accessibility kits that offer accommodations to meet the needs of the entire community, including people with disabilities and other access and functional needs. Video Remote Interpreting is available at the centers and in-person sign language is available by request. DRCs also have accessible parking, ramps and restrooms. To locate the nearest center, use the FEMA mobile app, visit www.fema.gov/drc or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711 or VRS) or 800-462-7585 (TTY).
If FEMA is participating in a local event, anyone has the right to request reasonable accommodations to support their communication needs. FEMA can provide services such as sign language interpretation and captioning if a request is made through the meeting or event host. For notice events, contact information will be provided to request reasonable accommodations.
FEMA speaks many languages
In addition to accommodating survivors with disabilities, FEMA also reaches out to people with limited English proficiency by providing multilingual operators, making printed literature available in multiple languages and having translators available in the field. Information on the registration process is also available in American Sign Language at www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/111546.
Survivors who need a translator to assist with registration can visit a disaster recovery center where a FEMA employee will facilitate getting the appropriate translator through a special internal phone line.
Registering with FEMA
FEMA Individual Assistance is available to disaster survivors in five Georgia counties affected by Hurricane Irma: Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Coffee, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh.
Survivors may also register by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711 or VRS) or 800-462-7585 (TTY). Lines may be busy. Try calling in the morning or evening when call volume may be lower. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, seven days a week.
Have this information ready when you apply:
- Social Security number
- Address of the damaged home or apartment
- Description of the damage
- Information about insurance coverage
- A current contact telephone number
- An address where you can receive mail
- Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of fundsApplicants will receive a unique registration number, which will verify their identity to FEMA during recovery. The deadline to apply for disaster assistance in Georgia is Nov. 14.
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.
SBA Disaster Loans an important part of the process
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofits.
After registering with FEMA, survivors who are referred to SBA, should complete the loan application even if they do not plan to accept a loan. It is a step in the federal disaster assistance process. Applicants who do not qualify for a home loan may become eligible for grant assistance from FEMA. Loans do not have to be accepted if offered.
Homeowners, renters and businesses can find an electronic loan application on the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Questions can be addressed by calling the SBA disaster customer service center at 800-659-2995 or (TTY) 800-877-8339 or www.sba.gov/disaster.