Birmingham, AL -- Thirty-two inspectors are now in the field visiting Alabamians who have registered for federal/state disaster assistance to verify their losses, Gracia Szczech, head of recovery operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said today.
"The inspectors evaluate the extent of an applicant's damage and help determine their eligibility for aid. This allows us to serve them in the quickest and most efficient way possible," Szczech said. So far, 784 inspections have been completed in the 32 counties designated eligible for individual assistance.
Normally, FEMA housing inspectors will schedule appointments within 5 days following an application. If the applicant is approved for aid, a check will generally follow 7 days after the inspection. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also sends loss verifiers to inspect the property of those who have submitted completed SBA loan applications.
Applicants will be asked to verify that they own or occupy the damaged property, and that it is their primary residence. A mortgage statement or lease agreement will usually suffice for proof of rental status or ownership. Federal and state officials stress that under no circumstances do inspectors request any form of payment for their work.
To avoid a delay in monetary assistance, it is wise for applicants to keep their appointments with inspectors or, if unable to do so, to contact FEMA on the toll-free line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The number for those with hearing or speech impairments is 1-800-462-7585.
FEMA officials advise all applicants to get identification from anyone claiming to be a damage inspector. "All of our inspectors and verifiers carry photo identification," said Szczech. "If an inspector is not displaying identification, ask to see it."
Individuals may register for disaster assistance by calling the toll-free number, which is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Anyone living in the following counties who suffered storm-related losses may apply for assistance: Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Macon, Madison, Marshall, Morgan, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapossa, Tuscaloosa and Walker.