Rumors vs Facts on FEMA disaster assistance for Isaac

RUMOR: There's no easy way to get true, reliable info about FEMA's disaster aid programs.

FACT: Straight answers and plain facts are available from the disaster aid program experts on FEMA's Help Line. Call 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585 to learn about disaster assistance programs and to register for aid. You can talk with multilingual experts every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

RUMOR: It's hard to register for FEMA disaster assistance.

FACT: There are three ways to register for disaster assistance. Call 1-800-621-3362; TTY 1-800-462-7585; online, visit or go to via web-enabled phone. Users of 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 1-800-621-3362. Louisiana residents who live in parishes designated for federal assistance - Ascension, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. John and St. Tammany - are urged to register with FEMA as soon as possible.

RUMOR: It takes a long time for disaster aid to reach survivors.

FACT: FEMA already has Individual Assistance specialists on the ground in Louisiana, and they have already approved more than $1.8 million in assistance to survivors. They will continue to process assistance for eligible survivors as applications are received.

RUMOR: Survivors can't register for FEMA assistance if they have insurance.

FACT: Survivors may be eligible for FEMA disaster aid for their uninsured and underinsured losses and damage.

RUMOR: Renters can't get FEMA aid.

FACT: Renters whose homes were made unlivable by a disaster may be eligible for FEMA disaster grants, including rental assistance and other disaster-related needs.

RUMOR: When survivors register, they immediately qualify and receive payments from FEMA.

FACT:  After survivors register, their completed applications are reviewed, and an inspector may call to schedule an inspection at their home. If survivors are eligible for assistance, they should receive a U.S. Treasury/State check or notification of a direct deposit to their bank accounts. Other types of assistance may be provided later, based on specific eligibility and need.

RUMOR: FEMA is issuing survivors $200 checks for food and $400 checks for electricity.

FACT:  FEMA does not issue checks for food or electricity.

RUMOR: FEMA is issuing food stamps to Hurricane Isaac survivors.  

FACT:  The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services' (DCFS) will begin on Sept. 5 taking applications for disaster food stamps, now known as the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP). Survivors can apply by calling 1-888-524-3578.

RUMOR: It takes weeks before a FEMA housing inspector visits.

FACT: On this recovery operation, it is taking only two to three days for an inspector to call and schedule a property inspection.

RUMOR: Only businesses can get low-interest disaster loans from SBA.

FACT: SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes (including landlords) and private nonprofit organizations for disaster damages not fully covered by insurance or other compensation.

RUMOR: Immigrants do not qualify for federal assistance.

FACT: It's true that applicants must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or a qualified alien to be eligible for FEMA grants. However, aid may be available if someone registers on behalf of a child in the home who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien.

RUMOR: FEMA is paying to remove debris from private property.

FACT: FEMA is reviewing whether this program will be available for Hurricane Isaac damage.

RUMOR: Survivors with roof damage can get free tarps through Operation Blue Roof.  

FACT: The official "Blue Roof" program is not launched but some voluntary organizations are providing tarps for damaged homes. Contact Louisiana 2-1-1 for more information.

More information about this disaster is available online at or