Tips for Wildfire Survivors to Speed FEMA Assistance


SACRAMENTO – Completing an application for assistance starts the process for eligible wildfire survivors to receive FEMA monetary awards to help support you on your road to recovery.  To keep the process on track, FEMA urges those who registered for help as part of the Aug. 22 major disaster declaration to keep in touch with the agency.

Create a personal online disaster assistance account. A personal online disaster assistance account helps communication with FEMA. You can use it to update your contact information, see copies of FEMA letters sent to you and upload documents FEMA needs to complete your application.

To create one:

  1. Click the green Check Status button at bottom of
  2. Click the blue Create Account button at bottom of page.
  3. Enter your date of birth and Social Security number, which you provided previously when registering for assistance.
  4. Answer four security questions that are generated from public record data to verify your identity.
  5. Create a user ID and password.
  6. Enter an email address. FEMA will send a temporary PIN to it within 24 hours. Follow the instructions in the email to finish creating your account.

Keep contact information current. Correct contact information is essential for you to receive prompt decisions about your application. Always let FEMA know when your address or phone number changes.

You may update this information on your personal account at or with the FEMA app on your smartphone or tablet.

You may also update contact information by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. Users of TTY may call 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are available 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. PDT. If you use a relay service, such as a videophone, Innocaption or CapTel, provide FEMA the specific number assigned to that service when you update your contact information.

FEMA encourages you to request direct deposits of disaster assistance to your financial institution. To receive FEMA assistance promptly, let FEMA know of changes to your banking information.

If you requested a FEMA check by mail, it’s important to note that FEMA disaster assistance checks cannot be forwarded. If you cannot access your home address, you can request the Postal Service to hold your mail.

Have a property inspection. Due to concern for your health and that of FEMA staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, property inspections are being conducted by telephone.

You must have a property inspection to verify damage — even when your home was destroyed — before FEMA can determine if you are eligible for assistance.

Inspectors come from many different states and use their own phones to conduct inspections. Many cell phone users don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers and inspectors have found they can’t leave voice mail messages because mailboxes are full. Don’t let this slow down your access to assistance.

For the latest information on wildfire recovery visit  and/or follow the FEMA Region 9 Twitter account at



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