Congressman Lamar Smith

Representing the 21st District of Texas
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
YouTube icon
RSS icon

Disaster Assistance

Disaster Assistance Information

Frequently Asked Questions About Individual Assistance

Who should apply for federal disaster assistance?
Texas homeowners, renters and business owners in disaster-designated counties who
sustained damage to their homes, vehicles, personal property, business or its inventory as a result
of the ongoing severe storms and floods may apply for disaster assistance.

How do I apply?
You can apply online at, by smartphone or web-enabled
device at, or by phone at toll-free 800-621-3362, or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.

What kinds of assistance are available?
Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home
repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses and medical, dental and funeral
expenses caused by the disaster, along with other serious disaster-related expenses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest disaster loans to
homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes. These disaster loans cover uninsured and
uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

Am I eligible for disaster assistance if I already have insurance?
You should apply for assistance even if you have insurance because you may find that you
have unmet needs after you receive your settlement. If you have not already contacted your
insurance agent to file a claim, do so right away. Insurance is your main source for money to put
your life back in order after a disaster. But insurance does not cover many expenses, so disaster
programs may be able to help. You should not wait for your insurance settlement to apply for a
low-interest disaster loan from the SBA.

I have applied. What happens next?
After you apply, FEMA will send you a copy of your application and a copy of “Help After
a Disaster: Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals and Households Program,” which will answer
many of your questions. This useful publication explains how FEMA’s disaster assistance
program works; describes additional kinds of help you may qualify for from other federal, state
and voluntary agencies; and gives you many important tips on how best to make all these
programs work for you.
If your home or its contents are damaged and you are uninsured or underinsured, a FEMA
inspector may contact you within about 10 days after you apply to schedule a time to meet with
you at your damaged home. All inspectors carry photo ID that shows they are affiliated with the
U.S. government.

What kinds of low-interest disaster loans does SBA offer and for how much?
If you’re a homeowner, you may borrow up to $200,000 from SBA to repair or replace your
primary residence. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal
Businesses may borrow up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or
economic injury. SBA offers low-interest working capital loans (called Economic Injury Disaster
Loans) to small businesses, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit
organizations of all sizes having difficulty meeting obligations as a result of the disaster.
FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants that help pay for medical, dental and
funeral expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, homeowners or
renters must complete and submit an SBA loan application to be eligible for assistance that
covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Do I have to be a legal U.S. resident to receive Individual Assistance?
Yes. To be eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance grants you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen
national or a qualified alien. A qualified alien generally includes individuals who are
lawful permanent residents or those with refugee or asylum status. Qualified aliens include those
permitted in the United States for at least one year for humanitarian purposes, those with
conditional entry, those who are Cuban-Haitian entrants and those with petitions for relief based
on battery or extreme cruelty by a family member. Check with an immigration expert if you have
questions about your legal status.

Is there any assistance available for undocumented immigrants?
If you have a child living at home who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien, you may apply
for Individual Assistance on that child’s behalf and you may be eligible to receive Individual
Assistance. You may also be eligible for various programs run by state, local or voluntary
agencies. FEMA may provide undocumented, eligible immigrants with short-term, non-cash
emergency aid.

How can I check the status of my case?
You may go online to or call the toll-free FEMA Helpline at
800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.