CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- A week after President Clinton issued a disaster declaration for flood-ravaged Iowa counties damage inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are in the field. Inspectors are now in the area examining residences and personal property damaged by severe storms and flooding that swept through the area beginning July 2.
"You must first apply for disaster assistance before inspectors will view your damaged property," said Curt Musgrave, FEMA federal coordinating officer. "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 inform 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 Steve Zimmerman, state coordinating officer. "Also, official inspectors will not be charging any fees to perform this service. If you suspect fraud, call the police, sheriff or the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division (515-281-5926) at once."
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 may look at damages, including the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the American Red Cross, local building officials, health and safety inspectors, and insurance adjusters.