As the full extent of Hurricane Sandy's impact is still being uncovered, residents who lost homes or have suffered damage to them can apply to FEMA for help right now.
Registering your claim can be done online or by phone, and the process takes about 25-30 minutes, officials say.
The website is www.disasterassistance.gov. You can apply via your smartphone as well at m.fema.gov. To apply by phone, call 1-800-621-3362. People with speech or hearing disabilities should call 1-800-462-7585.
According to Scott Sanders, a FEMA spokesman, you have 60 days from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for help. For New Jersey residents, this means you have until Saturday, Dec. 29 -- 60 days from the date the disaster declaration was made, on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
In addition to assistance with the costs of repairing or replacing homes -- FEMA's website notes it is secondary coverage to homeowner's insurance -- FEMA provides rental assistance as well.
There is information you need when you apply for assistance. According to the FEMA website, www.disasterassistance.gov, you should have the following information available:
- Your Social Security number.
- Insurance information -- the type of insurance you have.
- Your annual gross income.
- Contact information where they can reach you, especially if you are displaced
You also must fill out and sign a Declaration and Release Form (OMB form 009-0-3), and send it to:
FEMA – Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055
Or fax it to: 1-800-827-8112
Many towns will be holding information sessions with FEMA representatives in the coming days.