MADISON, Wis. -- Homeowners, renters, and business owners who have applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after the recent severe storms, flooding and tornadoes will hear soon from damage inspectors.
“You must first apply for disaster assistance before inspectors will view your damaged property,” Ron Sherman, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer, said. “If you sustained damage and have not yet applied, call the FEMA toll-free application number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with hearing or speech impairment should call TTY 1-800-462-7585.”
After the phone application, a FEMA inspector may contact you within three to five days to schedule an appointment to inspect your damaged property. The damage inspection is part of the recovery process. Before an application can be completed and approved, the location must be inspected to verify the nature and extent of damage suffered by those who have registered for federal disaster assistance.
Having the necessary documentation can help speed up the inspection process. Applicants should be prepared to provide written confirmation of ownership, such as a tax receipt, deed, mortgage payment book or home insurance policy with the damaged property's address.
Owners and renters must show that the damaged property was their primary residence at the time of the disaster. Inspectors will accept a valid driver's license or utility bill dated the month damages occurred (such as an electric, gas or water bill) as proof of occupancy.
The inspection is free. It generally takes 10 to 20 minutes, and consists of inspecting all areas of your home and a review of your records. The inspector enters information into a hand-held computer that sends the information to FEMA. This speeds up the process of providing assistance. The inspector does not determine whether an applicant is eligible for assistance.
After you have received and completed your loan application, an SBA loss verifier may also schedule an appointment. Local building and safety inspectors may schedule an inspection to see if damaged structures are safe. FEMA inspectors, SBA loss verifiers and insurance adjusters are required to carry identification.
Disaster officials warn residents to be cautious about letting unfamiliar visitors into their homes, even though they may introduce themselves as an inspector. “Ask for identification from anyone claiming to be an inspector,” urged Ed Gleason, Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) administrator. “The inspectors are required to display their picture identification badges at all times.”
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.