Mississippi Storm Survivors: Spend FEMA Grants Wisely

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency have already approved more than $1 million in state and federal disaster relief funds for Mississippians recovering from the severe storms and tornadoes in Forrest, Lamar, Lauderdale and Perry counties. MEMA and FEMA want to remind those receiving grant payments to spend those funds wisely. Grant money that is not used on housing repairs and other essential needs may need to be repaid, and recipients could lose eligibility for any further financial help from FEMA.

  • Housing Assistance grants are intended for basic housing repairs, including repairs to a septic system or private well. These funds can be used for short-term rental payments or to reimburse hotel/motel expenses.
  • Other Needs Assistance grants are intended to help replace essential personal property and meet disaster-related medical, dental and funeral expenses. The money may be used to repair or replace a car damaged by the disaster and to replace work-related tools.

Most FEMA disaster grants are deposited electronically to the applicant’s bank account. A follow-up letter explains how the money should be spent.

If grant money is not used as outlined in the letter, a recipient may have to repay FEMA and could lose eligibility for further help. These grants should not be used for luxury goods, such as flat-screen televisions, video games or other entertainment electronics. Grants may be audited, so survivors should keep receipts for three years to document disaster assistance.

The first step toward obtaining recovery assistance is to register with FEMA.

You can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

For more information on Mississippi’s tornado recovery, go to fema.gov/disaster/4295 or visit the MEMA site at msema.org. Follow MEMA on Facebook facebook.com/msemaorg and on Twitter @msema.