RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginians who have applied for disaster assistance can expect to have their homes inspected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA inspectors are verifying damages to homes affected by the Nov. 18-19 severe storms and flooding in Bland, Buchanan, Giles, Smyth and Tazewell counties, and in the independent city of Galax. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and insurance companies also have damage verifiers.
"We are working quickly to meet the needs of those affected by the disaster," said Federal Coordinating Officer, Lou Botta. “A visit by an inspector is one of the steps in the recovery process.”
After you apply for disaster assistance by calling the FEMA registration number, a FEMA inspector will contact you to schedule an appointment to inspect your home. When the inspector calls, be sure to give clear, accurate directions to the damaged property, the street address and a current phone number where you can be reached.
Here are some of the things homeowners should be aware of when a FEMA inspector arrives:
- Always insist they show an official ID. The face of the FEMA ID says “United States of America.” Below is the person’s photo and name. At the bottom is the FEMA seal and the ID’s expiration date. On the reverse, a warning states that the ID is the property of the U.S. Government; and, if found, it should be dropped in any mailbox for return to FEMA. The FEMA address is given and a barcode also appears.
- An official inspector will never ask for money.
- FEMA inspectors never use vehicles bearing a FEMA logo.
Owners and renters must show proof of occupancy such as a valid driver's license and they will also be asked to sign some forms. Owners must also show proof of ownership.
The inspection is free. It generally takes 30-40 minutes, and consists of inspecting all areas of your home. The inspector enters information into a hand-held computer that sends the information to FEMA. This speeds up the assistance process. The inspector cannot determine whether an applicant is eligible for assistance.
To register for disaster assistance call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired. Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
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 the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.