"UNDERSTANDING AND NAVIGATING THE

DISASTER RECOVERY PROCESS"

WEBINAR

~ JUNE 28, 2011 ~

CAROLYN PHILLIPS: According to my watch it's

2 o'clock, so we can actually go ahead and get started.

Welcome, everyone. We're very glad that you're

with us for another one of our webinars in our series that

we have at the Pass It On Center, which is your national

technical assistive technology device reuse, coordination,

and technical assistance center.

We're very happy to be able to do these webinars.

And as most of you know, we do archive these, and you can

access them. We have a transcript, and we make them fully

accessible. So they are on our website, and we'll give you

information as to how you can actually access those.

I'll give you just a brief little tour of our

webinar room so that you're familiar with everything that

you need to be familiar with. And then we'll move forward

with our presentation for today.

If you look to the upper right-hand corner, it says

"Public Chat." And that's where all -- you probably have

seen a big flurry of information going back and forth as we

were just working on some of the details behind pushing the

slides.

And so if you look right below that, there's a box

where you can enter information. And the information that

you enter there, whatever you say in there -- so I'll say

"hello." And what it does is it actually comes right up

into the public-chat area. We do archive that public-chat

area also. You can do emoticons and all those things.

We will be paying attention to the questions that

you post there. And so feel free to post questions or add

comments or what have you.

We do see this as a presentation but also as a

conversation. So feel free to participate in that way.

That's one of the great things about the webinar system.

And if you look below that, you can see a list of

everyone who's participating. If you would like to make a

comment using your voice, if you have a microphone, then

you can hit the "Control" key, and that will raise your

hand. And you would hold down the "Control" key the whole

time while you're speaking. We'll be able to release the

mic and let you speak, have the floor.

But if you want to just post your question, you

sure can do that in the public-chat area.

One of the things that we're thrilled about with

this webinar system here is that it is accessible and also

that you can record the sessions. You'll see that Caroline

is recording it, and so is Kimberly Griffin, who is our

wonderful transcriptionist.

If you want to record it, you can go to the menu

bar at the very top of the screen and go down to

"Recording," and you can hit "Start Recording." And once

you're finished with the recording, you can hit "Stop

Recording," and you can go back and listen to this

yourself.

And Juli, if you'll go ahead and advance to the

next slide, that would be great because I'm going to answer

the question that a couple of people have already asked.

Our friends from East Tennessee already asked this

question. Alice, here's your answer.

Our CEUs, we do our CEUs, continuing education

credits, and also CRC credits. That's for rehabilitation

counselors.

The CEUs, all you have to do -- it's very simple --

is visit www.aacinstitute.org to register. And you can

receive your certification or -- and that's the way you

would do that. You can also e-mail them at

ceus@aacinstitute.org.

And I see that you said there's no link on AAC

Institute, at least that wasn't as of today. I'll check on

that and get right back to you. I'll make sure that we

have that resolved or at least I have an answer before we

conclude today.

The CRC credits, this session was approved for 1.25

CRCs. And all you need to do to get those credits, you

would just send Liz Persaud an e-mail with your full name,

your organization name, the city and state that you live

in, an e-mail address. And your verification form will be

e-mailed to you within a few days. And that's

liz@passitoncenter.org.

And as I said, Alice, I definitely will check on

that in just a moment.

And Juli, if you'll go on to the next slide.

All right. So we really do want to continue to

improve. We've heard great feedback from people from all

over the United States about how helpful our webinars have

been. We want to continue to develop webinars that

actually meet your needs.

So help us improve. Help us meet your needs. And

you can do that. One way you can do it, you can contact us

directly and let us know a specific topic that you're

interested in, and we will try to produce a webinar around

that, or we can provide technical assistance around that.

You can also fill out an evaluation of this

webinar. We use SurveyMonkey. And if you -- and I'll

actually post this right in our public-chat area so that

you can click on that link, and you will be able to fill

out the -- there you go -- the evaluation.

We definitely want to hear your feedback and help

us grow. So that would be wonderful.

And, Juli, if you'll go to the next slide.

I'm really happy that we have two folks with us

today. We've got Jim Cook, who is with the Pass It On

Center. He is a consultant working through Temple

University and specifically working in the world of

emergency management and assistive technology reuse.

And we're very glad that he's with us. He's going

to be hanging out with us today and answering questions if

you have any questions and just helping us guide through

this process.

And we're especially excited to have Juli Gallup

with us today. She has a wealth of information and all

kinds of experience that's disaster related.

She was the state lead and project manager for

Katrina Aid Today. She has been very involved and a

critical member of the Volunteer Organizations Active and

Disaster, the VOAD, and working specifically with the

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

And so, Juli, really, really thankful that you're

with us. And I know on the next slide you'll give us a

little more information and make a disclaimer. So I'll let

you go ahead and do that.

So without further ado, Juli, take it away.

And thanks again, Caroline, for your assistance.

JULI GALLUP: All right. Well, I'm really excited

to be a part of this today. And just a little bit about

Katrina Aid Today for those of you that are not familiar

with that.

It was the case-management consortium that was

established for evacuees from the Gulf Coast. And in

Tennessee we actually had about 70,000 applications for

FEMA that were made while people were still in our state.

And Katrina Aid Today was a program where we were

able to provide case-management services to people that

ended up relocating to Tennessee and even some people that

ended up going back home.

So I come with this from the experience of actually

providing case management and working with local, state,

and FEMA resources. And so that is part of where we came

from.

And I'll explain a little bit more about what the

Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster is a little bit

later in the seminar.

But one of the things that was really exciting was

the opportunity to become a service coordinator for our

state emergency-management agency as a part of VOAD, which

has really given me a seat at the table for the disability

community during disaster operation.

The legal disclaimer here is, I just need to make

it clear that I'm not an attorney and that the presentation

is intended to provide you with some general information

and that this is not to be considered legal advice.

And if you have questions regarding a specific

situation, we would ask that you would please contact your

attorney.

Our objectives for the webinar is that, by the end

of this, you will be able to have a basic understanding of

FEMA disaster assistance and the disaster assistance

sequence of delivery. And this will really focus on what

happens with individuals that have been impacted by a

disaster.

And the unfortunate part of it is that a lot of

times the learning curve comes after something has

happened. And people are so overwhelmed by the amount of

paperwork, and a lot of mistakes are made because people

don't understand the process.

So it's really important that leaderships of

disability-related agency understand about the

disaster-assistance-recovery process. And this can really

help you in assisting your clients.

But it may also help inform you as an agency as to

the type of assistance that you provide and how you use

your own resources, which can be critical because resources

can be very limited, and it's really important to try to

avoid duplication of services if it's at all possible.

We'll also provide you with some tools to assist

clients in navigating the disaster-recovery process and

provide some tools to identify who are the key partners and

to talk a little bit about what are some things that are

very helpful in establishing a positive relationship with

your state VOAD and your state emergency-management agency.

There were a lot of lessons learned from Katrina.

And many of our clients really struggled due to a number of

issues.

And these included that they lost their

identification; they lost important documents; they didn't

have copies of insurance policies; families with children

with disabilities did not have copies of their child's

education plan to be able to take with them to a new

school; loss of any kind of identification or things that

would tie them to their residence, which is very critical

in a post-disaster recovery process.

A lot of people failed to understand what the

different roles are of the state, federal, and the local

emergency-management agency. They don't understand the

assistance process.

And it's so easy to be so overwhelmed and to make a

lot of mistakes. People don't understand the insurance

policies they have and what those policies actually cover.

There were problems with a limitation of one

application per household with FEMA, which means that, in a

family, the first person who applies from that address was

the one who got the FEMA initial assistance. And having

more than one application from a household can also slow

down the process of getting that application processed.

Again, that lack of documentation. People lost

resources that they were very dependent upon.

People were also unable to meet the residency

requirement for assistance: that they had been in their

housing for less than six months; they might have been in

an apartment or in like a boardinghouse where they didn't

have any type of bill, or they didn't get receipts for

their rent that was attached to that property, so there was

really no way for them to be able to verify that they had

actually lived at that particular address.

And also, if you are in temporary housing like a

hotel or a recreational vehicle, generally you're not

eligible for FEMA benefits.

We actually had a situation here in Tennessee where

a family had moved out of their home temporarily and were

in a hotel. And they were not eligible for the hotel

losses, but they were not eligible for the losses at their

home because they were not living there at the time.

So we're going to get into understanding the

disaster-assistance process. And the first step of that is

to take a look at what is the authority of the different

emergency-management agencies.

And it's important to remember that all disasters

are local. The primary responsibility lies with the local

government. They are the ones that are responsible for

those initial responses to get first responders out to

people. But they also maintain the authority even when

state and federal resources are present.

And so sometimes what the state and federal

resources are able to do can be very dependent on the

decisions made by the local emergency-management agency and

the local government.

So that, if the local government is slow to invite

the state and federal emergency-management agencies, that's

going to slow down those agencies being able to bring their

resources.

And it's really important to understand that at the

bottom line is that all disasters are local, and the local

government maintains authority.

The state emergency management becomes involved at

the request of the local government. And they cannot step

in until that invitation has been made.

The state coordinates their resources with those of

other response, relief, and recovery agencies that come to

bear in a disaster situation. But again, the local

government still maintains that authority.

And the Federal Emergency-Management Agency, FEMA,

comes at the invitation of the state. And that's basically

where the state is realizing that this is really beyond

their resources, and so they've asked the federal

government to step in.

And those federal resources are available to

support the state and local efforts. But again, the local

government still maintains the authority.

We're going to take a look at how assistance comes

to an individual. We'll talk a little bit about insurance

and insurance policies, what they cover, FEMA benefits, the

Small Business Administration loan process, long-term

recoveries, and appeals.

Your homeowners insurance has limited coverage.

And one of the problems in a disaster situation is that

people don't understand what it is that they have

purchased.

Generally it will cover wind- and rain-related

damage to property. It also covers fire damage, other

types of hazard-type situations that happen. But it's

really important to understand what you've purchased.

If it is wind and rain damage, it is top-down

damage, which means that, if water has damaged -- if a home

is damaged by water that does damage from the roof down,

then it's generally covered by the homeowners insurance.

That would also include if you had pipes burst or those

types of things. But it's really important to check what

your policy says for the specific details.

I've also been told that it's generally a good idea

to avoid the word "flood" because their definition of a

flood is very different than what we might think of.

If you have pipes burst, we might say that our home

was flooded. But they mean something very different from

that. So to say "Our pipes burst, and we had water damage

as a result of that" will not trigger a process that might

happen with your insurance agent if you use the word

"flood."

It is also important to know what your homeowners

policy does not cover. It can include things that --

damage that could have been avoided through proper

maintenance.

I had a situation where I worked with someone here

with the floods last year, that, if they had caulked the

windows that led to their basement, they would not have had

the damage, and the water would not have gotten into their

basement the way that it did. And so they were denied by

their insurance policy because they said, "If you had

properly maintained the home, you would not have had the

damage.

It does not cover groundwater damage, which is

commonly known as flood damage in the insurance world. It

typically does not cover landslide, earthquake, mud flow.

We did have issues here in Tennessee with the May 2010

floods because the ground became saturated, and people had

landslides on the hills behind their homes and trees

falling on homes. But because it wasn't water damage from

groundwater, the homeowners policy did not cover that.

And it generally does not cover sink holes which

can be created from underground caves that collapse or

mining that has been done in the past.

It is so important to understand what the policy is

that you've purchased and what your responsibility is as a

homeowner and then to check with your insurance agent about

what your coverage is and what additional insurance riders

are available.

A lot of times insurance agents are reluctant to

tell you about these riders or to push very hard,

particularly if you're shopping and you go to another

agency where the agent says, "Well, you really don't need

that coverage."

But it's really important to know about what the

risks are in your area and to make an informed decision

about whether or not you need these additional riders.

Flood insurance. It definitely covers insurance

from groundwater that rises. So whereas homeowners is kind

of top-down damage, flood insurance covers bottom-up damage

from water that rises up from the ground.

It is available to everyone if their community or

county participates in the National Flood Insurance

Program. It must be in place before the flooding occurs.

And there may be a 30-day waiting period.

There are also moments where the government has not

authorized new people to come into the program, and there

could be a waiting period because of that as well. And it

may or may not cover contents depending upon your coverage.

If a homeowner or a renter has had flood insurance

in the past and they let it lapse or they live in a flood

zone and do not carry flood insurance, there may be limited

assistance from FEMA.

We had several clients from Katrina that were down

in New Orleans that had let their flood insurance lapse or

had not covered it. One family had actually let it lapse

about a week before the flooding in New Orleans, and they

were not covered even though they had paid for it for

20 years.

Also inexpensive, low-risk insurance is available

for individuals who do not live in a floodplain if their

community participates in the National Flood Insurance

Program.

And Jim's making some great comments over here too.

You really need to make sure you know what you have

purchased. You need to know: Does it cover just the

dwelling? Does it cover the contents? Does it cover

outbuildings as well?

Anyone, again, if your community or county

participates in the National Flood Insurance, can buy

through the program. And here's a link to find out if your

county or your community participates in the flood

insurance program.

It's also important to know that sometimes these

small, incorporated communities that may choose not to

participate, even though everyone else in the county has

participated in the program.

Moderate to low risk can have preferred policies.

And it's important to realize that 25 percent of the claims

every year are for moderate- to low-risk areas.

So just because you're not in a 100- or 500-year

floodplain and you're not required by your mortgage holder

to have flood insurance, that you're still eligible for it.

And personally we've made the decision not to

purchase flood insurance even though it's available for

under $50 a year for us because we live in a place that we

feel like it would be a flood of Noahic proportions if we

were to ever have our home flooded.

However, we had someone down our street that ended

up with flood damage because of the way their home property

was -- the way the property was sloped, the position of the

home on their property, and the drainage ditches were not

enough to prevent damage to the home.

So you really need to be aware, take a look at the

landscape, if you're able to get a risk assessment for your

area, and make a very informed decision about whether or

not you want that flood-insurance policy.

And I've also included a link to floodsmart.gov.

And it will tell you what is covered by the residential

coverage.

High-risk coverage is available. Premiums are

based on just a number of things. And I'm not going to go

through everything that is on this slide. But it has to do

with: how old the building is, the occupancy, number of

floors, the location, is it in a flood zone, if it's in a

500-year or 100-year flood zone, and the deductible that

you choose, and the amount of coverage that you choose, and

that could include if you wanted to cover your outbuildings

or the contents of the building.

One of the things about the National Flood

Insurance Program is that participating communities agree

to mitigate future flooding hazards. So there's the Flood

Mitigation Assistance Program.

And you may hear, after a flood, about FEMA

providing money to the state government to buy out homes

that are in a flood-prone area. And the agreement is that

that property would never be made available for development

again. And that is to keep FEMA from having to pay year

after year after year on these properties that are flooded

on a frequent basis.

And that's an important program. I know there's a

lot of frustration at times because of mitigation because

it takes time for the local government to decide what

properties that they're going to buy out.

But that is one of the requirements of the

flood-insurance plan is that the community agrees to

participate in mitigation in the future.

It's important to remember that insurance is the

first payor. And that includes homeowners, flood,

earthquake insurance. Any other type of insurance you

might have is always going to be the first payor in a

disaster situation. And that includes being the first

payor for the dwelling and contents and also for housing

assistance.

There are individual assistance through FEMA for

housing and other-than-housing needs, and it is a second

payor. And in order to get benefits from FEMA, you must

apply and qualify for those specific benefits.

It is meant to cover those critical expenses. It

is not intended to restore an individual to predisaster

condition. And there is also a cap for the funding.

And to realize that FEMA assistance is not in

addition to insurance, but it's to fill the gaps between

your insurance and the amount of the maximum grant for

FEMA.

So, for an example, if the FEMA maximum grant is

$30,000, and you have no insurance, then there would be the

possibility of getting a grant from FEMA for the entire

amount. If you had $20,000 of insurance, then the FEMA

benefit would be $10,000 because it would fill that gap up

to the maximum grant amount. And if your insurance payment

is above that maximum grant amount, that you are not going

to be eligible for FEMA benefits.

It's also important that sometimes, because there's

a need to do something very quickly, and sometimes

insurance does not move very quickly, that people can get a

payment from FEMA without necessarily knowing what an

insurance settlement is going to be. And if there is a

difference -- if the insurance payment is above the max

grant, then you're going to be expected to pay FEMA back

the amount of money that they paid you.

So we had several situations where people received

FEMA assistance. One family, in particular, received

$26,000. And then they received the amount that it cost to

fix their home.

And I don't remember how much their home was

valued. But say it was $150,000 home, and they received

$150,000 benefit from their insurance company. FEMA has

come back since then and said, "We need you to pay that

$26,000 back to us."

And so it's important to realize that it's not in

addition to your insurance and that, if your insurance is

above the maximum grant, that you will be expected to pay

that money back to FEMA.

The Small Business Administration is the agency

that provides the disaster-recovery loans for FEMA. And it

is very, very important that everyone apply for the SBA

loan.

You'll hear a lot of excuses: I don't want a loan;

I wouldn't be able to pay it back; I won't qualify. But it

really opens the door for further assistance.

So if you're working with a family or an individual

with a disability that is in a situation and they're

saying, "You know, I'm on a fixed income. There's no way I

could pay it back," encourage them very strongly to go

ahead and fill out that SBA loan packet.

They are low-interest loans for needs unmet by

insurance and FEMA. And they must apply to be considered

for further assistance with unmet needs.

And this can be very, very critical because this is

where some of those additional FEMA benefits that are even

in a greater amount than what their maximum grant could be

that -- your big-ticket items, an accessible van, for

instance, is something that could be considered for further

assistance with FEMA under the unmet needs.

So it's very, very critical that these SBA loan

packets are filled out and sent in in a timely manner. And

people just simply do not understand the importance of

filling those loan packets out.

It also opens up the door to long-term recovery

committees and unmet-needs tables. And we'll talk a little

bit more about that in just a moment.

Another issue that has come up in the past, too, is

that there are individuals that for religious reasons

believe that they cannot -- their religion forbids them

from taking out a loan.

And the disaster recovery assistance process is

sensitive to that. And it will allow for some exemptions

to the loan. Or if there's other extenuating

circumstances, there is the ability for families or

individuals, if they are able to get a loan, that feel the

need to turn it down for whatever reasons, can let the

Small Business Administration know why they are not going

to be able to take that loan. And it would still keep them

eligible for moving forward to long-term-recovery

resources.

And it's important to note that most of the

applications are going to be turned down and that that's

not necessarily a bad thing.

Unmet needs are those needs that have not been met

through insurance, FEMA benefits, or an SBA loan.

It's also important to know that case management is

required to have access to that particular resource and

that it provides access to local, state, and national

resources that come available at a particular point in

time.

It provides -- we're going to talk for a minute

about case management too. And this is something that is

generally available after a disaster. And it's really

critical for a number of reasons.

And it's also a great place for agencies that have

resources to plug in and to be able to effectively meet the

needs of their constituents and of people that may not have

needed your services before but may have been injured or

had a loved one that was injured.

A lot of times people will have medical conditions

that they didn't have before a disaster situation. And it

helps to provide information and referral. It connects

people to those local agencies and provides information

about local resources and information about accessing those

programs that come into play after a disaster has occurred.

It's a gateway to long-term recovery committees.

And there's also a case-management database that is

available that case managers use. And this is very, very

important in tracking the assistance that individuals and

families have received. And it helps to avoid duplication

of services.

Another reason why case management is important is

that it's a second set of eyes to take a look at what is

going on.

The case managers are trained to understand the

assistance process and what the available resources are.

They can assist in a proper understanding of disaster

benefits as designated by insurance or FEMA.

One of the biggest pitfalls that happens after a

disaster is that people do not understand that the disaster

assistance often is very, very specific in what the

assistance can be used for.

A couple of examples would be, if FEMA says you are

to use this money for temporary housing, you're going to be

expected to show how you used that money for temporary

housing.

If they said that this benefit is for you to

rebuild your home, it is critical that that money go into

rebuilding the home. It cannot be used to buy another

home. It cannot be used as something that you sell the

home as is and you give the money to the new homeowner.

It is very, very important because, if you misuse

FEMA disaster assistance, they will come back, and they

will ask you for that money back later.

And generally they say, "We'd like it back in 30

days" or that, "You have 30 days to get ahold of us to tell

us how you're going to pay back this money."

And it is very, very important that people

understand that those benefits have to be used the way that

they're specified.

It can help catch that duplication of FEMA and

insurance benefits, which can help you avoid being recouped

by FEMA.

A case manager can come in and say, "You know what?

Taking a look at this, it looks like FEMA has overpaid you

by this amount of money. And it's important that you go

ahead and send that money back to them."

It can help locate assistance for individuals who

do not have insurance or are ineligible for FEMA

assistance.

An example of this is I worked with a family with

the floods who had a landslide, and a large tree went

through their home.

Because they did not have earthquake or landslide

insurance for their home, they did not have any coverage

through any type of homeowners insurance. And because the

declaration was only for flood, then they were not eligible

for the FEMA assistance either.

I had contacted this family in October of last year

to see what had happened with them. They were getting

ready to file bankruptcy and to walk away from their home.

And I was able to get them connected with long-term

recovery, and the Mennonites actually just finished

building their home last month.

So it's very important, even if people don't think

that they're eligible for anything, to pursue case

management and to see what's available for them as well.

And they can also help assist with appeals with

both insurance, the flood insurance program, and with

FEMA's (inaudible).

It's important because it maximizes resources. I

had someone say, you know, they raised $7 million for flood

relief in Tennessee through some concerts that were done

here in Nashville.

But when you consider that there were 69,000

applications that were filed for disaster assistance

through FEMA, $7 million doesn't go that far.

So it's really important that there's a

coordination of services and agencies so that you can

maximize the resources that are brought to the table.

You can use financial assistance and donated labor

and materials in rebuilding. There's a number of agencies

that come in with skilled labor teams and will come in and

do an assessment.

They will give the homeowner a list of materials

that need to be purchased. The homeowner can purchase the

materials with the disaster assistance that they received

through insurance or FEMA. And the home is rebuilt through

donated labor.

And if what their financial resources that are

available are insufficient, there's often building

materials that are also available to help.

It's very important to realize, too, that disaster

programs rarely reimburse for unauthorized expenditures.

So what's happening here in Tennessee is a year

later people have exhausted their resources. There's still

a lot of things that they are still needing, or their home

is still not in livable condition. And they're wanting to

be reimbursed for what they've already spent.

And case management can help you from making a

decision that seemed like a good idea at the time but

really has put you in a very difficult position in your

recovery process in the long run.

And again, it avoids duplication of services. And

this is one of FEMA's favorite phrases. I can't tell you

how often I hear how important it is to avoid duplication

of services.

But part of that is, if someone is designated to be

the first payor, they need to be the first payor. And it

reserves other resources for individuals who do not have

the same resources available to them.

At this point long-term recovery committees or

unmet-needs tables should come into play. And ideally a

long-term recovery committee consists of state, local, and

national resources that can provide that additional

assistance to individuals impacted by disaster whose needs

have not been met up to this point.

They are typically established by a community or

county or regional LTRC. And it just depends upon the

needs and the resources.

And they are resources for disaster-related needs.

These are not intended to meet needs that existed before a

disaster occurred.

The process that will take place in an LTRC is that

a case manager will come in and meet with a family and

assess what the needs are. The case is then typically

presented to a case manager roundtable to kind of ferret

out what are the most critical requests in this particular

request to the LTRC and what is the most important things

that are needed.

The case is then presented then to the LTRC, and

needs and resources are matched to one another.

And this is really an amazing process to be a part

of, to see that there can be one group that can rebuild a

home. There can be a group that can help pay for utility

deposits. Another group might be able to help with car

repairs or replacing a vehicle.

And it just depends upon what their own resources

are that they bring to the table that are available. And

ideally -- it's an amazing process when there are people

that have things to bring to the table and are really

focused on meeting these disaster-related needs.

A little bit about applying for FEMA benefits, is

you can apply by phone or online. We were aware last year

of some problems for individuals who are deaf or hard of

hearing and being able to apply by phone.

And we have been assured recently that that has

been remedied and that FEMA will be taking video-relay

calls, whether it's through VRI or VRS, and that that is a

situation that has been corrected.

You can also apply online. And last year I walked

through this process with a coworker who had flood damage.

And we found this to be pretty accessible and

understandable.

It's very important to give them the information

that they are looking for. And if you do what they ask you

to do, you'll be able to walk through the process pretty

easily.

It's also important to only apply one time. And if

there's duplicate applications, it will only slow things

down. And applications are one per household.

Some of the information that would be required by

FEMA is your Social Security number, a current and

predisaster address, a telephone number where you can be

contacted.

I don't know if this has been corrected, but they

were requiring a telephone number that was attached to the

disaster residence. And I don't know if that's been

corrected. But if that's what they're asking for, it's

important that you give them that information.

Information about any insurance that you have, what

the annual income of your household is, a description of

the lot, and a routing number to a bank account if you want

those funds to be transferred directly into your bank

account.

It's also interesting that the money tends to come

ahead of the letter. So we had many instances of clients

that all of a sudden had a nice-size increase in their bank

account and got a letter from FEMA about three to five days

later.

The residence in a county with a presidential

disaster is one of the qualifications, is that you actually

have to reside in a county that is declared.

And it could be that a county is not declared

because there were only a handful of houses that were

impacted by the disaster, so that county may not be

considered in the disaster declaration.

That doesn't mean that the VOAD agencies would not

come in and help rebuild those homes because they will.

You also have to file for insurance. And your

insurance needs to be insufficient to cover the costs to

qualify for that FEMA benefit. But again, it's important

to make sure that people do go ahead and file for FEMA.

A person must be a citizen, a noncitizen national,

or a qualified alien. It's important to remember that

having a Social Security number does not mean that you are

a qualified alien.

You also have to be in that residence for six

months. And the home has to be uninhabitable, inaccessible

due to the disaster, or require repairs because of damage

done by the disaster.

If you have adequate rent-free housing available --

say you have several rental properties, and one of those is

open -- you may not qualify for the housing assistance. If

your home was a secondary or vacation home, you may not

qualify.

If you evacuate due to an order and you have

accumulated expenses for your gas, your hotel, for food

expenditure, but you've been able to return to your home,

that does not qualify for FEMA benefits.

If you have been refused assistance from your

insurance provider -- again, I gave that example of someone

who had not properly maintained their home; therefore, they

were not eligible for insurance or for FEMA benefits.

You may not qualify if you were in a high-risk

flood zone without flood insurance and you may not qualify

if losses are only business losses or items not covered by

the assistance programs.

After you file a claim, FEMA will mail you a copy

of an applicant's guide to their program. And it will

answer a lot of questions. It is also available through

FEMA.

And Jim makes a great point. There are businesses

and agricultural losses that might be covered under

something other than the individual assistance program.

An inspection will follow, and it typically takes

10 to 14 days after you apply for an inspection to take

place. And the inspector will call and schedule a time to

review the damaged home.

This next line is something that I meant to take

out. But I gave a very similar presentation for the

Tennessee Bar Association ten days after the flooding last

year. And FEMA was already conducting assessments in

Tennessee at that time. So they tend to be very timely in

getting those things done.

If you have insurance, you need to file your

insurance claim. Go ahead and apply to FEMA and provide

FEMA a copy of your settlement or denial letter as soon as

possible, and an inspector will still come and schedule a

time to review the damaged home.

If you have flood insurance, you need to go ahead

and file the claim. And you will be contacted to review

the damaged home.

You do not need to provide FEMA a copy of your

flood insurance decision letter before FEMA will schedule

an inspection. And this is very important because

temporary living expenses are not covered by flood

insurance.

It's important to note that sometimes it may take

longer in areas that have very limited access after the

disaster.

We had a number of areas throughout Tennessee that

were very rural where the roads were washed out. What was

left was impassable because of fallen trees. And even

trying to get up the riverbeds or the creek beds was nearly

impossible because of the amount of debris. So the more

severely impacted an area is, it may take a little bit

longer to get inspections.

It's important to realize that inspectors are

contractors, not FEMA employees, and they cannot answer

questions about assistance. However, they should have FEMA

identification. They file reports, but they do not

determine eligibility for assistance, and there is no fee

for the inspection.

The homeowner must be present for the inspection

and will be required to offer proof of ownership and

occupancy to the inspector. You can use a utility bill

that's less than three months old as an example of the

occupancy. And a statement from the mortgage company or

showing them the mortgage bill can also be proof of

ownership.

And homeowners may designate for someone over the

age of 18 to meet the inspector, and they'll need to get

authorization saying that it's all right for this person to

be able to meet with the inspector, and that will be

written.

And then you would be asked as a homeowner to

provide your signature authorizing FEMA to verify that the

information is correct.

FEMA benefits are for approved housing needs. For

other-than-housing needs, they're tax free. They do not

have to be repaid if used properly. But misuse can result

in repayment.

And temporary-housing benefits are generally up to

18 months from the date of the presidential declaration.

That does not mean that you will be provided with temporary

housing assistance for 18 months.

FEMA benefits are not counted as income, and

they're not used in determining eligibility for welfare,

income assistance, or any other income-tested benefit

program funded by the federal government.

They are exempt from garnishment, seizure, and

encumbrance. In other words, no one can take them away

from you.

And they cannot be reassigned or transferred to

another person. And that's very critical. You cannot sell

your home as is and give them the money to repair the home.

It is important to keep receipts or bills for three

years to demonstrate how all the money was used in the

event that you get audited and FEMA comes back and wants to

see how you have spent the money.

And it's also important to realize that the local

codes requirement still apply, and you still need to wait

for permits.

You have the right to appeal. And you can appeal

how much assistance you received if for some reason you had

a late application. You can appeal recoupment requests

from FEMA or the denial of continued assistance.

You need to explain in writing why you believe that

the decision was incorrect. And you may need to have a

signed statement saying that someone else can act on your

behalf if they are the ones that are writing the letter.

You need to make sure you include the FEMA

registration number and disaster number shown at the top of

your decision letter. And you can appeal more than once.

And this is information about where you can send

that appeal. Or you can fax it. And you must do it within

60 days of the decision letter's date. And it's very

important. It's important to remember to date your letters

as well.

You can get a copy of your information from FEMA

records management at this address.

And I'm not going to go through all the information

on these next few slides just for the sake of time. But

there's several other programs that are available.

Disaster unemployment assistance is available for:

individuals who no longer have a job or a place to work,

they cannot get to work, the workplace has been damaged,

because of an injury an individual is unable to work.

And if someone becomes the head of the household

because the former household died as a result of the

disaster, that individual may also qualify for the disaster

unemployment assistance.

A little bit more information about the benefits

that are available and how to file a claim. And that

information is generally available through the state

unemployment insurance agency.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was

formerly known as food stamps. There is a disaster

assistance program that is available to people living in

the affected counties who have lost property or homes. And

you need to apply at a disaster recovery center.

If someone is already receiving food stamps, they

need to locate their local office, and they need to be

prepared to bring photo ID, the address, and to know that

this information will be verified with the state and

federal emergency-management agencies.

This is very critical because a lot of times you'll

read stories in the news that people that were not impacted

by the disaster signed up for these benefits, received

them, and then were required to pay back the money or did

not receive food stamp assistance until that money was

repaid to the program.

They also do not have to be used immediately.

There have been situations where people felt like they had

to use their food benefits right away, and it ended up in a

shortage of food in the area.

You'll be given a security benefits card, an

electronic banking transfer card for a one-month allotment

of food stamps.

Disaster Legal Services is also another resource

that becomes available to disaster victims. And it is

limited to cases that will not produce a fee.

This is done pro bono by these attorneys, and any

cases that may generate a fee are turned over to the local

lawyer referral service.

And this is the type of assistance they can

provide: They can help with securing FEMA or other

government benefits available to disaster victims; they can

help with insurance problems, home repair contracts and

contractors, replacement of important legal documents that

were lost in the disaster; they can assist with some

consumer protection matters; and they do a lot with

mortgages and landlord/tenant problems.

Now we're going to get into some tools. There's

some important information in assisting clients that your

agency might serve that have been impacted by a disaster.

The first thing is it's very, very important to

encourage clients to be proactive. People with

disabilities need to be proactive in their own preparation

and to be a self-advocate when an emergency arises.

Living in the community brings the responsibility

to be prepared to be self-sufficient for up to 72 hours.

And we actually had places in Tennessee that first

responders were not able to get to them until five days

after the flooding started.

It's important to have a personal disaster kit.

And it's also very important to reach out for help after a

disaster occurs and not to wait for help to arrive.

We had a situation that was highlighted here in

Nashville about some individuals that were in an apartment

complex. And these were individuals that were able to get

out of their apartment, and they talked about emergency

vehicles going up and down their street but that no one had

come to help them.

Whereas, there would have been help available for

them if somebody would have just been proactive and had

flagged someone down on letting these first responders know

that there were people with disabilities in the building

that needed assistance.

Preparing for recovery may sound kind of odd. How

do you prepare for recovery? But it's really important to

make sure that you gather the important documents that you

need in order to make that available to FEMA, to a disaster

case manager, or to your insurance agent.

It's important to make sure you have copies of

insurance policies, of recent bills, something that's

within the last three months. And actually one of the

things that I've personally done is I have e-copies of our

insurance policies so that I have that available in case

that were to be destroyed.

I also keep a bill that has my name on it that is

less than three months old in my car. And I keep one in my

wallet as well.

An inventory of lost items and items that would

need to be replaced and to really even do that in order of

priority. What are the most essential things that need to

be replaced?

It is important to realize that a driver's license

will not be adequate ID for FEMA, particularly for proof of

residence, because people often move and don't change their

addresses on their license.

Taking photographs is essential part of

documentation. And it's important that photographs are

taken before any clean-up occurs to document the extent of

the damage and what possessions were damaged.

Individuals should keep a copy of all these

photographs that are provided to any relief agency, to

insurance, or to FEMA.

One of the things that I have done for individuals

that were impacted by the flooding last year is I showed up

with what I called their disaster kit.

And in that I had an accordion file so that they

could keep copies of everything and a notebook with a pen

with some basic instructions.

It is important to keep a notebook documenting

everything that happened in conversations and in meetings

and inspections. Clients need to write down who they

talked to, the date, the time, what did they say, what were

the questions they had, and how did the other party

respond.

And they need to keep track of all of their

disaster-related expenditures. They need to keep a file

folder of everything that they received, receipts, letters

from insurance, decisions as to what the settlements would

be, letters from FEMA, bills, invoices, and to even make

some notes on some of those receipts as to what these

things were and why they were disaster-related.

It is important to keep originals and make copies

of anything that was sent in to FEMA or handed over to a

case manager and to make sure that you keep your own files.

And that these files are kept in a secure location is just

very, very critical.

I would also suggest that you encourage clients to

slow down. Mistakes are often made by being in a hurry.

I'm going to give you a few examples.

Rebuilding too soon after a flood can result in a

lot of waste of time, materials, and resources. After a

flood, it is critical that the home be adequately dried out

before any type of rebuilding is done.

And our VOAD folks would tell you here that they

came in and had to tear out so much drywall that was put in

too fast for a home that was rebuilt too fast because the

wood in the original structure was not dried out enough,

and they ended up with mold problems afterward.

If you're in a hurry, you're also more likely to

fall victim to scams or contractors who are not licensed or

contractors that are charging you too much.

You may miss out on benefit programs where there's

not reimbursements. It is very critical that you not spend

money that you may not need to spend or that that money is

spent, again, to maximize those resources as much as

possible. And that case management and that

long-term-recovery committees make take time to establish.

Jim is also making an excellent point, too, that

you may not have lived in a floodplain before, but it may

be determined that you live in a floodplain afterward, or a

decision may be made to mitigate your property, which means

that they would pay you market value for your home, and the

home would be torn down.

So you really have to follow those building codes

as well in order to not be rebuilding in an area that

eventually you're going to be told you didn't have

permission to rebuild, you didn't follow codes, and all of

this is going to have to be torn down.

And all of that takes time. I think it's important

to remind people, if it's a good idea today, it will be a

good idea tomorrow.

Encourage clients to be persistent, particularly if

they live in an area where there's not been a long-term

recovery committee in the past.

And sometimes the programs don't follow through, or

they fall apart. And if they seek case management, they

can appeal decisions; they can seek assistance from

disaster legal services.

There's lots of resources, but sometimes it takes

calling back and being persistent. And encourage clients

to call back and follow up if promised help does not

materialize.

There was a woman that we worked with with the

floods last year who has a traumatic brain injury. And it

was in an area that had never had a long-term recovery

committee. They established one, but it quickly fell

apart.

She called us back. We got her hooked into a local

committee that was close to her in another county. That

long-term recovery committee fell apart.

She called us back. And it was her persistence

that really saved the day for her. And we got a call, I

believe it was towards the end of April, saying that her

home had been rebuilt even though she did not have

insurance, and she did not qualify for FEMA benefits.

But the VOAD agencies were able to come in and help

her rebuild. And her persistence really paid off.

It's important to remember that assistance is for

disaster-related needs. And it's designed to provide a

safe and sanitary -- or functioning living conditions. It

is not designed to improve predisaster living conditions,

but it often does.

And assistance is often insufficient to return back

to normal. It will not be sufficient to replace everything

that is lost in a disaster.

And it's important to remember that people have

options, and they have the right to make their own choices

even if they make ones that are bad ones or ones that we

don't think are best.

Assistance may not meet expectations, or it may not

feel fair. It's important to remember that things will

never be normal as we know it today, but there will be a

new normal down the road.

Important agencies for you to know about are the

agencies that are part of the Volunteer Organizations

Active in Disaster. And these are your nonprofit agencies

that have programs specifically in disaster preparedness,

response, or recovery. And each state has a VOAD.

They include faith-based organizations. And these

faith-based organizations are very blind to people's

religious beliefs. And this includes Protestant

denominations, Catholics, Mennonites, Jewish.

I learned last year that there's a Muslim disaster

relief organization, and they come, and they provide their

services irregardless of whether or not you're a part of

their faith community.

Your community-based health organizations are often

a part of VOAD. And there's a number of other

nongovernmental organizations that participate, such as the

American Red Cross, the Humane Society, Habitat. In

Tennessee we have a manufactured housing association that

also provides assistance.

They can provide affiliated volunteers. And I want

to take a moment as to tell you why that is so critically

important.

These are volunteers that are trained, and they are

often covered by insurance. The last thing someone needs

to do is have someone come and volunteer to help them on

their property, they are not covered by an insurance waiver

or any type of insurance coverage, they fall on your

property, they're injured, and that individual can be at

risk of getting sued because that injury took place on

their property.

It would be a tragedy for something to happen as a

result of that. So these affiliated volunteers are

trained. They're knowledgeable about disaster assistance.

They're trained in appropriate boundaries. And they're

covered either by insurance or a waiver.

And here's just a list of some of the types of work

that they do. And it really, again, helps avoid that

duplication of services which is critical.

You know, you can try to do everything and do none

of it well, or you can specialize and be very, very good in

what you're doing.

In Tennessee our VOAD allows affiliate members who

have knowledge and resources but no volunteers or "stuff"

to bring to the table.

In Tennessee my agency is a nonvoting member, an

affiliate member. But it allows for input on a statewide

level. And it may open up the door for agency members to

participate more fully in the state EMA.

In Tennessee we have emergency service coordinators

that come from every department of the state government,

but it also involves people from American Red Cross,

Salvation Army, and a number of different agencies.

And our VOAD has an emergency service coordinator

position. And I'm one of several people that serve as an

emergency support coordinator.

And last year I actually spent the first week after

the floods in the emergency operations center for TEMA.

And it was really an opportunity to give the disability

community a seat at the table during that initial disaster

response.

It is also very important to be prepared to back up

any commitment that you make to VOAD and that you're really

able to do what you say that you're going to do.

In working with state and local EMAs, I think it's

very critical to go and approach them with the heart of a

learner. It's important to learn about the types of

disasters that can take place in your state or community.

In Tennessee we have the severe storms, the

flooding. We have earthquake faults in both east and west

Tennessee.

I live in Nashville where we have a major rail line

and three interstates that come through the heart of the

city, which means we're at high risk for a hazardous

material spill. Just an example of some of the types of

disasters that could take place.

Be willing to participate in training that can help

you become more knowledgeable about emergency planning.

FEMA has training that's available on their website for

free. Your state EMA or local EMA may also have training

opportunities available.

I think it's important to ask questions before

making assumptions about the awareness of

disability-related needs. And you might be surprised at

what is already taking place in the emergency-management

community in regards to individuals with disabilities.

To have a very collaborative spirit. Learn how the

process works. And you might want to even ask to tour or

observe the operation center.

And then I think it's important to have the heart

of a teacher. To be an expert in what you know, to show

what you bring to the table. Show them this is why it's

beneficial for you to know our agency, and these are the

assets that we bring, and this is how we can help you.

Be positive about their ability to serve the needs

of individuals with disabilities. Don't hesitate to say,

"I don't know, but I'll find out." And ask what they're

already thinking about. What are their areas of concerns?

What do they think are the gaps in the services that

they're providing?

And again, make sure that you can back up what

you're saying.

I think it's important to streamline effort as far

as the work that's done with state and local EMAs, partly

because often they're slow -- they're not slow. Often they

are overworked, and they are small.

And in Tennessee we have an extremely small EMA,

but it's extremely efficient. And what I've seen in the

past when they were rewriting the emergency-management plan

for the state was that, when too many people were wanting

to be a part of the planning, they just shut it down.

And it was just because it was too much input from

too many resources. So the more collaborative the

disability community can be, the better.

And it's important to develop resources that can

benefit them. And show what you have. And let them know

this is what we can do; this is how we can help you.

And I know that that's a lot of information. This

is my contact information. E-mail is the very best way to

get ahold of me. And I will try to get back with you just

as soon as I possibly can.

And it looks like we've got just a little under

20 minutes for any comments or questions that anyone might

have. And I'm going to give up the mic.

JIM COOK: This is Jim with PIOC. I see that

Carolyn's mic is not working at the moment.

Does anyone have any specific questions or general

comments for Juli? She's a great resource. And grab her

while we have her.

But like she said, be sure and e-mail her or e-mail

us with questions that might come up later at the PIOC

website.

Any other questions?

[... audio skipped] and perhaps we can go ahead and

e-mail it to you later this afternoon.

Jamie, this webinar will be posted on the PIOC

website here in a few days. But I see Juli just put up the

link right there. I'm going to click on it and see if I

get through.

And, yes, if you click on the link that Juli just

now put up in chat, it will take you directly to the

SurveyMonkey.

Thank you all for participating. And please keep

in touch with us. Please keep in touch with us at PIOC,

and watch our schedule for other webinars that are coming

up.

As Carolyn said earlier, don't hesitate to offer

ideas on other topics that you would like to have

researched and discussed.

Once again, thanks a lot for participating.