FEMA program helps victims of natural disaster

By Cindy Waxer on December 5th, 2011

Imagine losing your home, car and business in the event of a natural disaster. Now imagine not having any insurance to cover your losses. It's a terrible situation that countless Americans face in the aftermath of an earthquake, flood, landslide or wildfire.

Fortunately, there is help if you have uninsured or underinsured losses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Individual Assistance Program provides money or assistance to those affected by a natural disaster whose losses are not covered by insurance.

Available assistance

Help is available for temporary housing, repairs, home replacement costs and permanent housing construction costs. Money is also available for expenses such as:

  • Disaster-related medical and dental costs.
  • Clothing.
  • Household items, such as room furnishings.
  • Cleanup items, such as vacuums.
  • Damaged-vehicle assistance.
  • Moving and storage expenses.
  • Crisis counseling.
  • Disaster unemployment assistance.
  • Legal services.
  • Tax help.

Many Americans pay insurance premiums and are covered by their homeowners insurance or flood insurance policies. However, FEMA's Individual Assistance Program can help you fill in the coverage gaps created by less comprehensive policies and programs.

Finding out about every available recovery option before a disaster strikes is an excellent form of preparedness and can help you cope better in the overwhelming aftermath of an earthquake or flood.

How can you receive assistance in the event of a natural disaster? If counties or parishes are designated for FEMA's Individual Assistance Program, homeowners and renters from those designated areas simply register with FEMA.

That's not to suggest, however, that FEMA's Individual Assistance Program is a panacea. If a homeowner already has insurance coverage, the program is careful not to duplicate benefits. The point of the program is simply to offer a helping hand to uninsured or underinsured Americans.


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