ST LOUIS, Mo. -- Damage inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are continuing to assess storm-damaged residences in Madison County (Missouri) just one week after county residents and business owners became eligible for state and federal disaster assistance.
Inspectors are now in the area examining residences and personal property damaged by early April severe storms and flooding that swept through the area.
"You must first apply for disaster assistance before inspectors will view your damaged property," said FEMA federal coordinating officer Curt Musgrave. "You can apply by calling the FEMA toll-free registration number 1-800-462-9029. Persons who are hearing- or speech-impaired may call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585."
An inspector will determine the extent of damage to the house and whether it is habitable by checking the structure and the systems. Damage to major appliances - washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, etc.-- will be assessed. Other serious needs, such as lost or damaged clothing, also are reported.
Residents are urged to notify the FEMA inspector if the household is serviced by a private septic system and well. Some FEMA assistance may be available to repair or replace these damaged systems.
State and federal disaster recovery officials said applicants should be prepared to show the inspector documents such as proof of ownership for property owners or proof of occupancy for renters to help determine eligibility. Insurance papers should be shown if they are available.
Disaster officials urge applicants to ask for proper identification before allowing unfamiliar persons claiming to be inspectors into their homes.
"These inspectors will have specific agency identification showing that they are in fact authorized to do an inspection," said Jerry Uhlmann, director of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). "Also, official inspectors will not be charging any fees to perform this service. If someone tries to do that, they should be reported to the nearest law enforcement agency."
State and federal officials note that more than one agency may be inspecting damaged property. FEMA schedules its inspections within three to five days of the time an applicant registers by phone. Other agencies that may be looking at damages include the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the American Red Cross, and/or local building officials.
Applicants who have questions about the inspection process or other questions about their applications may inquire at the Disaster Recovery Center in Fredericktown. The center is in the National Guard Armory at 104 Armory St. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.