Recovery officials are cautioning Texans who have received disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use the funds for their intended purpose and to keep disaster spending receipts for three years.

Disaster assistance is to help residents meet basic disaster-related needs and funds are distributed via check or direct deposit. A letter explaining what the payment is to be used for arrives within a day or two of the check or direct deposit payment.

If an applicant spends the payment on anything other than the purpose for which it is directed, he/she may be denied assistance the next time the need arises. In some cases, FEMA will ask the funds be returned.

Those receiving aid are urged to keep receipts of their disaster spending for three years to document the money was used to meet disaster-related needs. If a recipient receives an insurance settlement to cover the same expenses, he or she must reimburse FEMA. Random audits confirm funds were spent properly.

Disaster assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners.

Homeowners, renters and businesses in Erath, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Hood, Jasper, Limestone, Marion, Newton, Orange, Parker, Shelby and Tyler counties are eligible for federal disaster assistance as a result of the severe storms in March.

The first step is to register with FEMA at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone (voice, 711 or video relay service) at 800-621-3362, TTY 800-462-7585. Toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week and multilingual operators are available.

For more information on Texas recovery, visit the disaster webpage at fema.gov/disaster/4266, Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion6 and the Texas Division of Emergency Management website, txdps.state.tx.us/dem. Visit fema.gov/texas-disaster-mitigation for publications and reference material on rebuilding and repairing safer and stronger.