Federal disaster aid and mortgage relief available for Hurricane Sandy victims

View of Hurricane Sandy from space

If you're one of the millions of people whose property or business was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, there might be help for you beyond what your insurance company can provide.

As of right now, residents of New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Virginia are able to apply for help from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

States may be added as total evaluation of the damage is assessed.

Your first step is to go to Disasterassistance.gov on a laptop or desktop, or to m.fema.gov from a smartphone.

Scams are already popping up to prey on disaster victims. So make sure you stick to these sites.

From there, you can apply for assistance directly (it takes about 20 minutes) and also check on an application already filed.

If you're not sure you qualify for assistance, go to "Explore Disaster News Feeds" on the Diasasterassitance.gov homepage.

Here you'll find information specific to your state. After you click on that link, you will be directed to your state-specific FEMA.gov site with information as to who qualifies for what aid, including rent for temporary housing, unemployment benefits, payment for debris removal fees and low interest loans for individuals and businesses.

If you are without power and cannot file online, call 1-800-621-FEMA for information on how to file through the phone or through a mailed application.

You may also qualify for a temporary break on your mortgage payments.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two big government-owned companies that buy mortgages have already told the servicers that collect payments for them that they can offer forbearance plans to borrowers affected by the storm.

Those plans will allow most homeowners to reduce or even miss several mortgage payments with the understanding they'll make them up later.

But borrowers dealing with the most serious damage and hardships could have their mortgage payments reduced for up to a year.

To find out if your mortgage qualifies go to the:

Fannie Mae website or call 800-7FANNIE, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

Freddie Mac website or call 800-FREDDIE from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

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