Columbus, OH -- Residents of Cuyahoga and Summit counties who suffered damages from the tornadoes and severe storms, and have registered for disaster assistance, can expect a visit from one or more inspectors to look at their damaged property.
According to officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA), inspectors typically visit properties to verify losses within a few days after residents have called the FEMA toll-free application number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). People who are hearing- or speech-impaired should call TTY 1-800-462-7585.
"You must first apply for disaster assistance before inspectors will view your damaged property by calling the FEMA's toll-free number," FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer Ron Sherman said. "Then within several days, inspectors will be visiting to verify uninsured losses. All inspectors carry official photo identification and do not charge anything for this service."
A FEMA inspector will examine any structural damage to your house. He assesses damage to appliances, such as the washer, dryer, refrigerator and stove. He also reports serious needs, such as lost or damaged clothing. Homeowners should identify all known damages and tell the inspector if they have a septic system or a well.
The U.S. Small Business Administration will send loss verifiers to inspect damaged property of those who have submitted completed loan applications. Local building and safety inspectors may come to see if damaged structures are safe.
"We are advising applicants to ask for identification from anyone identifying themselves as damage inspectors," Ohio EMA State Coordinating Officer Dale Shipley said. "If an inspector is not wearing an identification card or badge, ask to see it."
If you suspect fraud, call the police, sheriff or the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, 1-800-282-0515, at once.