How to Get Assistance from FEMA After Hurricane Harvey

Note: As every FEMA website and web page notes, if this is an absolute emergency, please dial 9-1-1 for immediate assistance.

As an agency within Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created to respond to disastrous situations. Specifically, FEMA deals with situations in which state and local officials may be unable to appropriately respond to the situation or after a presidentially declared state of emergency has been declared.  If you or someone you know requires assistance from FEMA, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, here are some helpful tips:

  • In order to apply for FEMA’s assistance online, please go to
  • If you would rather apply over the phone or are having difficulty applying online, please call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585, during business hours, which are between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) seven days a week.
  • Later, it is possible to check your FEMA application status at
  • Individuals requiring FEMA’s assistance have 60 days after the disastrous event takes place in order to apply for Individual Assistance.
  • It is important to note that individuals who are eligible to receive an Individual Assistance Grant are not required to pay back the grant.
  • While there is no income threshold for Individual Assistance grants, individuals may be referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a low-interest disaster loan, which is geared towards assisting in the rebuilding efforts of businesses and homes and must be paid back to the SBA.

When an individual registers for FEMA assistance, either online or by phone, the following will be required to complete the application:

  1. Social Security Number
  2. Address of the location where the disaster occurred
  3. Current mailing address
  4. Current telephone number
  5. Insurance Information
  6. Total annual household income
  7. Routing and account number for checking and savings accounts, which allow FEMA to directly transfer funds into your banking accounts
  8. A detailed description of the disaster outcomes and losses

In order to find an emergency shelter, visit the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army, or text “SHELTER” to 4FEMA (43362). Standard text message rates apply.

By law, FEMA cannot duplicate any assistance that your insurance agency may provide.  However, you may receive assistance for lost items not covered by insurance.  Because of federal guidelines, FEMA is only allowed to provide assistance for your primary residence, not secondary homes.  However, disaster assistance is provided for other disaster caused expenses, including medical and dental, childcare, funeral and burial expenses, essential household items, moving and storage, vehicle, and other cleanup items.

After filling out the FEMA application, some may be required to fill out a Small Business Administration application before one’s eligibility for assistance can be determined.  The next step will be that FEMA will conduct a home inspection within ten days of receiving your application.  In the event of a catastrophic disaster, inspectors may take longer to contact you. If an individual qualifies for assistance FEMA will either give you a direct deposit into your bank account and a letter describing how the money should be used. If an individual does not qualify, FEMA will send a letter explaining their reasoning and the individual will have an opportunity to re-apply.

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