As the full extent of Hurricane Sandy's impact is still being uncovered, residents who lost homes or have suffered damage to them may apply to FEMA for help right now.
Registering your claim can be done online or by phone, and the process takes about 25-30 minutes, officials say.
Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opened a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Bergen County. The center, located in Hackensack on the fourth Floor of One Bergen County Plaza, will be in operation seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until further notice.
The agency will now be able to provide face-to-face assistance to those who suffered damages from Hurricane Sandy and assist people applying for FEMA grants. Visitors to the centers can also get valuable information about additional state and federal programs. Also, a representative will be available from the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) to help businesses and private non-profit organizations submit applications for low-interest mitigation loans.
Residents should bring photo identification, their insurance information, an itemized list of damages, and their FEMA registration number if they have already registered with the agency.
While supplying photographs of the damages are not mandatory, bringing them will assist in the process. Residents with insurance may also be eligible for FEMA relief.
For more information, call DRC #6 Manager Sharron Cunningham at (201) 336-6026.
To register online, the website is www.disasterassistance.gov. You can apply via your smartphone as well at m.fema.gov. To apply by phone, call 1-800-621-3362. People with speech or hearing disabilities should call 1-800-462-7585.
According to Scott Sanders, a FEMA spokesman, you have 60 days from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for help. For New Jersey residents, this means you have until Saturday, Dec. 29 -- 60 days from the date the disaster declaration was made, on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
In addition to assistance with the costs of repairing or replacing homes -- FEMA's website notes it is secondary coverage to homeowner's insurance -- FEMA provides rental assistance as well.
There is information you need when you apply for assistance. According to the FEMA website, www.disasterassistance.gov, you should have the following information available:
- Your Social Security number.
- Insurance information -- the type of insurance you have.
- Your annual gross income.
- Contact information where they can reach you, especially if you are displaced
You also must fill out and sign a Declaration and Release Form (OMB form 009-0-3), and send it to:
FEMA – Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055
Or fax it to: 1-800-827-8112