WICHITA, Kan. -- With more than $3 million in disaster assistance already having been approved for those who suffered damage in the violent storms and tornadoes on May 3, Kansas residents have started repairs and rebuilding to get their lives back in order.
But experiences at other disasters show pitfalls await the unwary, and emergency management officials post a "Caution" sign on the road to recovery.
"We understand how anxious people are to pick up the pieces and get back into their own homes," said Curt Musgrave, Federal Coordinating Officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "But consideration of four issues can eliminate or greatly reduce problems now, and provide protection, both economic and safety, in the future."
Incorporating hazard mitigation techniques into repairs and reconstruction can reduce damage and protect life in another disaster, he said, and flood insurance can help provide funds in some cases.
It is also important to obtain the proper permits and follow local building codes and ordinances to avoid costly complications and delays.
And finally, he said, be careful of fly-by-night contractors who flock to disaster areas to take advantage of the unwary.
"Know who you are dealing with," Musgrave advised.
FEMA has free booklets on hazard mitigation techniques, including safe rooms, which can be ordered by toll-free phone at 1-800-480-2520. For information on building codes contact the local code enforcement officer. Check with a local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, or contractors' association for information on prospective contractors.