Calif. Residents Reminded Not to Disqualify Themselves from Assistance

February 16, 2006

All Californians who suffered damage in this winter’s flooding should register for state and federal assistance, disaster recovery officials emphasized this week.

“Don’t disqualify yourself from getting the help you’re entitled to,” said Tom Davies, federal coordinating officer for the disaster recovery. “When you call FEMA’s toll-free number, operators will be able to determine what assistance you qualify for.”

While some people who suffered damages may not be eligible for government grants or loans, the only way to know for sure is to register for help by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 , or register online at Registration lines are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

“That phone call, or registering on line, is a key step toward getting help,” said Henry Renteria, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Those who have not contacted their insurance agents about damage from the December-January flooding should do so before registering for disaster assistance, officials said. Government aid programs cannot duplicate insurance benefits, and help may be delayed if insurance settlements are still pending.

However, individuals who suffered flood damage and were insured may still be eligible for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“If you were uninsured or your insurance policy did not cover some of your disaster-related damages or losses, FEMA may be able to help,” Davies said. “If your insurance company did not fully cover your losses, take the first step and register with FEMA.”

Even if disaster victims have insurance, they may be eligible for disaster assistance. In order to complete the application for assistance, however, FEMA will need the insurance settlement information to avoid duplication of benefits.

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