Lynchburg, VA -- FEMA inspectors are visiting Virginia residences damaged in the February severe storms and floods to evaluate the nature and extent of the damage inflicted.
"You must apply for disaster assistance before inspectors will view your damaged property," said Justo Hernandez, federal coordinating officer with FEMA. "You can apply by calling the FEMA toll-free registration number 1-800-621-3362. Persons who are hearing or speech impaired may call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585."
The phones are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Applicants should provide a telephone number where the inspectors can reach them when they apply.
You do not have to wait for an inspection to repair your home. However, you should try to document all damage and repairs (photos or video) and keep all receipts and paperwork connected to the repairs.
An inspector will determine the extent of damage and decide if the home is habitable. Damage to major appliances -- washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove -- will be assessed. Other serious needs, such as lost or damaged clothing, will be reported.
Applicants with private septic systems and wells should advise inspectors of the existence of these items. FEMA assistance may be available to repair or replace damaged systems.
Recovery officials suggest that applicants may speed the inspection process if they have documents available to show the inspector. Useful documents include proof of ownership for property owners, proof of occupancy, and any available insurance papers.
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 Michael Cline, state coordinating officer for Virginia. "Official inspectors will not be charging fees to perform this service. If someone tries to charge a fee, they should be reported to local law enforcement agencies."
More than one agency may be inspecting damaged property. FEMA schedules its inspections within seven to 10 days of the time a resident 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.