PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- In a step to help people rebuild, more than 125 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inspectors have hit the streets to assess damage inflicted to thousands of area homes.
Individuals and families whose homes have been damaged by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Floyd may be eligible for a wide range of disaster assistance from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and other state, federal and voluntary agencies. They are urged to begin the recovery process by calling 1-800-462-9029. People with speech or hearing impairments should call 1-800-462-7585.
After registering with FEMA, owners and renters of damaged homes and businesses should expect a phone call from an inspector.
Inspectors from FEMA and SBA will verify the nature and extent of the damage suffered by those who have applied for federal disaster aid. This aid includes housing assistance, grants for essential needs unmet by other programs and low-interest loans from SBA. Each applicant must receive an inspection before his or her application can be completed and approved.
"Applicants can speed the inspection process by having important documents ready," said Lt. Ed O'Neil, state coordinating officer for the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. "These documents include proof of ownership for property and vehicles, and proof of occupancy for renters. Also, if repairs have already begun, pictures of damages would be helpful. And, save all receipts."
Disaster officials warn applicants to be cautious about letting unfamiliar visitors into their homes, even if they introduce themselves as an inspector.
"Don't be taken in by imposters," said Federal Coordinating Officer Pete Martinasco. "All our inspectors are ready and willing to produce their official photo identification."
Inspectors from other agencies also may visit damaged property during the recovery process. The SBA sends loss verifiers to inspect damaged property of those who have submitted loan applications. Local building and safety inspectors may also check damaged structures to assess their safety and to monitor and review rebuilding efforts. FEMA does not approve or refer contractors.