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HURRICANE RECOVERY: Ineligibility Letter From FEMA May Not Be The Last Word In Relief Funds

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CHRISTIANSTED – Some Virgin Islanders who sustained damages as a result of hurricanes Irma or Maria may receive a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stating they are ineligible for disaster assistance.

If you are a survivor who received an ineligibility letter, don’t give up. It may not be the last word from FEMA. An ineligibility letter may mean that FEMA does not have all the information needed to approve an application for assistance. For example, you might need to:

  • Provide information to prove occupancy or ownership of the damaged property
  • Provide proof of identity
  • Provide documentation to prove disaster damage
  • Return insurance information

You may be found ineligible for assistance for various reasons, including:

  • Your home is determined safe to occupy
  • The home is not your primary residence
  • Another member of your household has already registered for FEMA assistance.

Federal disaster assistance is designed to help with uninsured or underinsured losses caused by the disaster. The disaster assistance gives many a starting place or “hand up” to begin the recovery process.

Applicants who wish to appeal a decision may do so in writing within 60 days from the date the ineligibility letter was received. Guidelines for appeals can be found in the Applicant’s Handbook sent to everyone who registered with FEMA.

At any time, survivors may call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 to update their application information or get questions answered. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services may call 800-621-3362.

The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Operators are standing by to assist survivors in English, Spanish and many other languages.

Survivors who have not yet registered for assistance may do so at the telephone numbers above, at or at one of the nine Disaster Recovery Centers across the territory.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS – Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

For official information on the recovery effort following the hurricanes, please visit Follow us on social media at and

To donate or volunteer, contact the voluntary or charitable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) at  For those who wish to help, cash donations offer voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands also has the “Fund for the Virgin Islands” at

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