FEMA: Grants must be spent wisely


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (FEMA) – More than $18 million in federal disaster relief is already in the hands of Alabama survivors six weeks after the devastating storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reminds those receiving grant payments to spend wisely.

Survivors should only use Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance grants to meet specific disaster-related needs.

Housing Assistance grants are intended for disaster-related housing repairs, including repairs to a septic system or private well. Housing Assistance grants also may be used for short-term rent payments or reimbursement of hotel/motel expenses while the applicant’s primary residence is being repaired.

Other Needs Assistance grants are intended to help replace essential personal property and meet disaster-related medical, dental and funeral expenses. The money also may be used to repair or replace a car damaged by the disaster or to replace work-related tools.

FEMA disaster grants may be in the form of a check or electronic deposit.  Either payment form is followed by a letter explaining how the money should be spent.

If grant money is not used as outlined in the letter, a recipient may have to pay the money back and may lose eligibility for any further help.

FEMA grants should not be used for luxury goods such as flat-screen televisions, video games or other entertainment electronics. Grants may be audited, so survivors should keep receipts for three years to document disaster-related expenses.

The first step toward obtaining recovery assistance is to register with FEMA:

  • By phone, call 800-621-3362 (FEMA) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Assistance is available in many languages. For TTY, call 800-462-7585. For those who use 711 Relay, call 800-621-3362.
  • Online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Or by Web-enabled device, smartphone or tablet, use m.fema.gov.
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