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What Happens After You Register with FEMA for Disaster Assistance

  • Published: 2017-02-01 - Contact: FEMA at
  • Synopsis: Information on the process of registering and waiting for FEMA disaster assistance.

Definition: Federal Emergency Management Agency

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The agency's primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities. While on-the-ground support of disaster recovery efforts is a major part of FEMA's charter, the agency provides state and local governments with experts in specialized fields and funding for rebuilding efforts and relief funds for infrastructure by directing individuals to access low interest loans, in conjunction with the Small Business Administration.

Main Document

"...those who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have low vision, and those with speech disabilities may request reasonable accommodations to aid in communication."

Within 10 days after you've registered with U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance, a FEMA-contracted inspector should contact you and may schedule an appointment to visit the home.

Housing Inspections

Inspectors do not determine an applicant's eligibility for assistance.

The applicant will be asked to provide documentation to the inspector.

  • Homeowners are asked to show proof of ownership, such as a tax bill, deed, mortgage payment receipt or insurance policy, with the applicant's name, and the damaged property's address on the documentation.
  • Renters must show proof of occupancy, a lease, rent payment receipt, utility bill or another document confirming the location was their primary residence at the time of the disaster. Both homeowners and renters must provide a valid driver's license or other photo identification.

Upon arrival, the FEMA inspectors will display official contractor photo identification. If the photo ID is not visible, it is important for survivors to ask to see it. This helps prevent fraud.

FEMA's housing inspectors verify disaster damage to the structure, building systems and major appliances, and enter the information electronically into FEMA computers. Inspectors do not need to document all damage.

An inspection generally requires 20-45 minutes to complete the assessment. To speed the process, applicants should:

  • Keep their appointment or notify the inspector if a postponement is necessary.
  • Tell the inspector about other property losses or disaster-related needs, such as transportation, medical or dental care, tools and equipment required by an employer (if not self-employed) and educational materials, so inspectors can relay the information to FEMA.
  • If possible, provide photos that can support the damage claims, at the time of inspection.

What to expect from inspectors:

  • They have each applicant's nine-digit registration number and will never ask for it.
  • They never require banking or other personal information.
  • They do not hire or endorse specific contractors to repair homes or recommend repairs.

Disaster survivors with communication-related disabilities - those who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have low vision, and those with speech disabilities - may request reasonable accommodations to aid in communication. For instance, survivors may request an American Sign Language interpreter. Accommodations can be requested by calling (800) 621-3362.

Important Survivor Tips

  • Residents should not wait for a FEMA housing inspection before repairing their properties.
  • Document losses thoroughly. Take pictures of all damage to property and keep receipts of all disaster-related purchases and expenses.
  • Stay in touch with FEMA after registration. If addresses or phone numbers change, they should be updated with FEMA as soon as possible. Missing or erroneous information could result in delays in getting a home inspection or receiving assistance.


  1. New Guidance to Support People with Disabilities During Disasters - Guidelines on emergency sheltering to help state planners and organizations ensure people with access and functional needs receive lawful and equitable assistance in the aftermath of disaster - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  2. Disaster & Emergency Planning: Seniors & Disabled - Information regarding disaster and emergency planning and procedures for seniors and persons with disabilities in emergencies.
  3. How To Help Children Cope With Disasters - Children can be especially vulnerable to stress following a disaster such as severe storms and flooding - FEMA


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