Harrisburg, PA -- Verification inspectors are now in Chester County visiting people who have applied for disaster assistance, according to state and federal disaster officials. Once residents are registered, an inspector will contact the homeowner or renter to schedule a mandatory inspection of the damaged property.
Inspectors are specially trained contractors working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They carry special photo identification.
Applicants should be aware that a common scam involves someone posing as a damage inspector with official-looking identification. If someone says he or she is with a government agency, insist on seeing identification. If they cannot produce photo documentation, they are not FEMA inspectors
The free inspection generally takes 30 to 40 minutes and includes a review of both the structure and contents. One or more different inspectors may come to look at the damaged property such as loss verifiers from the U.S. Small Business Administration; American Red Cross representatives; and local building and safety inspectors.
FEMA inspectors do not make an eligibility determination. They electronically submit the report to FEMA for processing. Once the inspector's report is approved, checks can be processed for eligible applicants. FEMA disaster aid checks can be mailed or deposited directly into the applicant's bank accounts.
Chester County residents who have losses from Tropical Storms Henri or Isabel between Sept.15-23 are urged to register by calling FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- or hearing-impaired. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. Residents may visit the Disaster Recovery Center located in the Chester County Government Services Center, 601 Westtown Road in West Chester. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 10. The center will close permanently on Saturday, Oct. 11 at 2 p.m.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.