Individual Assistance

When a local jurisdiction has been approved for federal disaster assistance under the provisions of the Stafford Act, a number of legal avenues of assistance is opened for persons who incurred damages in an affected community. It is important to recognize that disaster assistance does not make a person whole for damages or destruction, but provides some help to begin recovery.

Individual assistance is provided to persons who have incurred UNINSURED LOSSES up to a cap of $31,900 (also includes any grants provided). Persons who have incurred losses due to the cause of the emergency and who live in the jurisdiction where the emergency has been declared are eligible for consideration.

Every person must:

Settle with their insurance company first
Pass the means test (variable as established by FEMA)
Apply for an SBA loan and the grant program

Good credit is important and the applicant must not fail the loan test for being credit-worthy. The amount you earn may change the percentage rate you are offered - usually under 3 or 4 percent.


SBA Loans

INDIVIDUALS - The U. S. Small Business Administration can approve loans on uncompensated losses for uninsured losses and for which no grant has been provided.

Home Disaster Loans - repair or replace disaster damaged personal property, including personal property losses for renters and automobiles. Collateral for over $14,000.

Credit rating defines lower interest rates
Home loan (3 years)
No credit available - home (30 years)

SBA covers:

Up to $40,000 for furniture, clothes and repairs
Up to $200,000 for private residences


Mitigation Loans - sometimes the mitigation program can provide funding for retaining walls, seawalls, sump pumps and other future damage prevention.

For more information, call the SBA at 1-800-659-2955.


FEMA Grants

If a person has applied for IA and SBA and still has serious needs, the victim may apply for a FEMA grant to offset losses. These grants are an option that FEMA may provide and are for necessaries only or essential repairs. Such grants cannot be used to pay deductibles.

If a person is rejected for disaster assistance, an appeal should be considered since this may open other avenues of assistance.


IRS Assistance

Federal law allows disaster losses to be claimed against this year's tax return. You may amend your 2009 tax return to get a refund because you are in a federally declared disaster county. The tax break is in addition to any government aid you may get from FEMA or SBA. You still must prove your loss and must claim only the damage due to the disaster. Take pictures of everything hauled to the curb and other damages, reduce worth based upon years of use (don't claim old stuff as new) and deduct your entire home if it has been declared unsafe by local government (within 120 days of the flood). Call the IRS if you need more details.

Federal Agency Phone Numbers

FEMA registration - 1-800-621-FEMA (TTY - 1-800-462-7585)
FEMA fraud line - 1-800-323-9603
Housing resources help line - 1-866-233-7643
U. S. Small Business Administration - 1-800-659-2955
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) - 1-800-427-4661 (TTY - 1-800-427-5593)
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - 1-800-829-1040 (TTY - 1-800-829-4059)
Social Security Administration - 1-800-772-1213
Department of Veterans' Affairs - 1-800-827-1000

State Agency Phone Numbers

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency - 1-615-741-0001
Donations Call Center - 1-866-586-4483
Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Consumer Affairs Division - 1-615-741-4737
Tennessee Attorney General's Consumer Advocate and Protection Division - 1-615-741-1671
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (Disaster Unemployment) - 877-813-0950, Extension 7599 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays or apply direct to

For legal assistance relating to the emergency call the Tennessee Bar Association at 1-(888) 395-9297 or refer to

Farm Service Agency - contact your local (county) office