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Common Reasons For FEMA Assistance Denial

One of the steps of being ready is to know what your options are.  Unfortunately, many people don’t even take the time to consider what they would do if their home or life was drastically effected by a natural disaster.  Somewhere, in the back of their minds they actually believe that help will be forthcoming from either the government or from their family, friends, or neighbors.  They don’t stop to consider that the “help” they think will be there most likely will not be available.

Consider this:

How many people live in your city? How many firemen, paramedics, and police officers are there? How many fire trucks and ambulances are there? How many hospital beds are there?

We contacted a few cities with a population of around 100,000 people and on average they only have 80 emergency personnel (firemen, police, paramedics) available in a disaster.  In addition they would most likely have only 4 to 6 ambulances and firetrucks.   Having said that, if there were a large disaster, the chances of getting help from local government  is very small.

Now consider what happens after the disaster.  What if there is considerable damage to your home?  If you don’t have insurance, you might consider applying to FEMA for help.  However don’t be surprised if FEMA denies your request.  On FEMA’s website they state:

Disaster assistance is money or direct assistance to individuals, families and businesses in an area whose property has been damaged or destroyed and whose losses are not covered by insurance. It is meant to help you with critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways. This assistance is not intended to restore your damaged property to its condition before the disaster.

While some housing assistance funds are available through our Individuals and Households Program, most disaster assistance from the Federal government is in the form of loans administered by the Small Business Administration. (FEMA SITE HERE)

So there you have it, don’t expect to get a free handout from the Government if your home is damaged in a natural disaster.  It will most likely come in the form of a loan that you will be required to pay back.  In addition, don’t expect this money to cover all the damage, only the “critical expenses”.

In addition to this, you might just be outright denied any help at all.  According to FEMA’s website, the most common reasons for being denied are:

  • You have insurance to cover the losses.
  • The damages to your home were not caused by the disaster.
  • Your home did not sustain sufficient damages to essential living areas or personal property to qualify for disaster assistance.
  • Your property is a secondary or vacation home. (original here)


It’s really important that you don’t make the mistake of thinking the government will be there to help you or your family in a disaster.  Our first responders do a fantastic job and they are very real heroes.  But the math just doesn’t allow for them to help everyone during a disaster.  Additionally, don’t make the mistake of thinking the government will cover the costs of your own disaster recovery.  Put a solid plan together now.  That might include extra insurance, (i.e. earthquake insurance), and it will most likely include storing extra food, water, and provisions for your family.

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