(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) say that the time is now to apply for federal assistance after spring flooding in Missouri.
People have sixty days to apply for federal assistance with FEMA after the disaster is declared.
Kristiana Sanford, FEMA's public affairs specialist from Kansas City, says that people should be applying for assistance as soon as possible.
"The sooner you register with FEMA, the sooner we can get that process moving and get you help," she said.
The process of applying and receiving funds can take days.
"If you register online, you get an inspector out right away, [it] kind of depends on that backlog, how many people have registered." Sanford said. "And then if you just get the money put into your bank account, it can be within your account within days."
Sanford says that for people who live in the 20 counties eligible for disaster assistance, you must file a claim with your insurance company first. FEMA cannot provide funds for something that is covered by your insurance but it can cover things that are not.
"FEMA assistance can cover things that are not covered by your insurance company and so that's huge to know," Sanford said. "So if your insurance company didn't cover a few things, FEMA assistance might be able to help you."
You can apply for federal assistance online or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). Once you apply, an inspector will come to your property to assess the damage.
Sanford says that the situation in northwest Missouri is unique because the area saw two separate flooding events just months apart. The federal assistance from FEMA covers damage done from April 29 to July 5 only but in many cases, the damage done in northwest Missouri happened before that. If residents sustained damage in March and May, you are urged to apply using the date of the most recent flood damage.
"These counties up here in the northwest region were affected in March and then affected again and so it is a unique situation,"
Sanford said. "It's hard to convey the messages and so that's why we are just urging people if you were affected in March and April to get on and apply for that FEMA assistance."
All cases are handled on a case-by-case basis and that people should apply even if they do not think they are covered.
"We understand and empathize that this is an overwhelming process," Sanford said. "Just know that we FEMA and the community we are here to help you down that road."
You can learn more information about the disaster relief applications by visiting FEMA's website or by talking with FEMA representatives that are currently in the area going door-to-door.