Reducing the Impact of Disasters Through Education
State Information

Financial Assistance for Recovery


Hurricanes typically result in Federally declared disasters. This mobilizes Federal resources for response and recovery, but there are other sources at the state and local level for assisting individuals.

Financial assistance may come to individuals from faith-based and charitable organizations. Such assistance does not require a Presidential declaration of disaster, and, depending on the policies of the organizations, may be available in counties that were not declared. Contact emergency management officials in your county or state to find out what assistance is being offered. EDEN provides links to state emergency management Web sites on each state's page.  EDEN state pages.

Federal Assistance 

The most significant source of financial assistance following a Presidentially declared disaster is the federal government. FEMA, now part of the Department of Homeland Security, is charged with coordinating the federal response to requests from a state for disaster recovery assistance. The federal government helps state and local governments by assisting with response and recovery operations and providing funds to support these activities.

Following a Presidential Declaration disaster assistance is made available to help residents and local governments in the declared counties recover from the effects of the disaster. The decision to include a county in a Presidential disaster declaration is made jointly by the Governor's Authorized Representative (typically the head of the state's homeland security or emergency management office) and the Federal Coordinating Officer assigned by FEMA to the situation.


The announcement of a disaster declaration, which includes a list of counties being declared, is usually made by the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and published in a FEMA press release.  Some types of assistance are available in counties that adjoin the declared counties. This FEMA page lists federal declarations and the counties included in each declaration; remember that counties are often added to the original declaration as damage assessments progress.


SBA's Disaster Assistance Program is the primary federal disaster-assistance loan program for long-range recovery for private-sector, non-agricultural disaster victims... (more)


USDA offers several financial assistance programs for recovery from agricultural losses.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also provides food and logistical assistance and assists state departments of agriculture in assessing agricultural and rural infrastructure damage. For example, USDA assistance may include food commodities, replacement food stamp benefits and Forest Service-managed FEMA mobilization centers. See "Help from the Department of Agriculture", below, and the page on "Resources for Farmers and Rural Areas".


Matters relating to a Presidentially declared disaster (and state declarations) are managed in each state by the governor's authorized representative.  In many cases this is the state office of emergency preparedness or emergency management, the division of emergency management, or the like.  It could be an Office of Homeland Security or in a department with a name less obviously related to the task, such as the Department of Community Affairs. Each of these state entities will have a structure for dealing with its counties.


Individual Assistance for Residents and Business Owners 

Some federal financial assistance flows directly to individuals to cover items not covered by property, business or other insurance. Assistance is available for housing, property restoration and other needs for residents of the counties that were declared. Find out if your county was declared by visiting the FEMA Disaster Declarations page. Some forms of federal assistance are available in counties that border the declared counties. 

Affected residents and business owners in declared counties are eligible to apply for a wide range of state and federal disaster assistance programs. The aid could include:

  • funding for temporary housing

  • U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property

  • disaster unemployment assistance

  • grants for serious needs and necessary expenses not met by other programs.

Residents and business owners in the declared counties apply for assistance by calling a toll-free registration number. A special number is provided for those with a speech or hearing impairment. FEMA Process for Individuals.


U.S. Small Business Administration Assists Victims of Hurricanes

Homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes in the areas affected by hurricanes may apply for low-interest SBA disaster loans. The process begins by registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency; FEMA will then make loan referrals to the SBA.  Businesses may download SBA’s business loan application package at

SBA provides loans for the following:

Real Property

  • Loans up to $200,000 for homeowners to repair or restore a primary residence to its previous condition.

Personal Property

  • Up to $40,000 for homeowners and renters to repair or replace personal property such as clothing, furniture or automobiles lost in the disaster.

Loans for Businesses

  • Physical Disaster Loans—For non-farm businesses of any size and non-profit organizations. SBA makes loans of up to $1.5 million to repair or replace damaged property, inventory and equipment.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans—Small businesses or agricultural cooperatives may be eligible for SBA assistance of up to $1.5 million if they have suffered substantial economic injury in a declared disaster area, regardless of physical damage.

In Hurricane Katrina and Rita, interest Rates were usually 4 percent for business loans and 2.68 percent for real estate and personal property loans, with up to 30-year repayment terms for those unable to obtain credit elsewhere.


Public Assistance for State and Local Governments 

Federal funding is made available to affected local governments and state agencies to pay 75 percent of the approved costs for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, buildings and utilities. In extraordinary circumstances the federal share may be increased to 100% or 90%, and the period covered by the assistance program can be extended by Congress.


Help from the Department of Agriculture 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several financial assistance programs for recovery from agricultural losses.  These programs are administered by the Farm Service Agency and are explained more fully on the Resources for Farms and Rural Communities page.

In addition to these, Ann Veneman, then USDA Secretary, announced in an August 16th Press Release, three programs that had been activated for Hurricane Charley and are typical of the kinds of assistance provided by USDA:

  • Food Safety - USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service provided public service announcement to media outlets prior to hurricane landfall. The information pertains to keeping food safe during emergency power outages. It may be accessed at For additional information on food safety during an emergency, call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854); for the hearing-impaired (TTY) 1-800-256-7072.
  • Food Assistance - USDA's Food and Nutrition Service assists those affected by the hurricane by providing food at shelters and mass feeding sites, issuing emergency food stamps and, if needed, distributing food packages directly to needy households. Application for food stamp assistance is through local Florida Department of Child and Family Services offices. Additional disaster food assistance information is at:
  • Watershed Protection - The Emergency Watershed Protection program, administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, provides technical and financial assistance to preserve life and property threatened by excessive erosion and flooding. Information can be found at


Last Updated:2/10/2012 11:18 AM

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