DES MOINES - Iowans who have applied for disaster assistance may be contacted and visited by a damage inspector, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (HLSEM).
"The inspections help us verify the damages, which allows us to help applicants get the most assistance they're eligible for in the quickest and most efficient way possible," said Thomas J. Costello, Federal Coordinating Officer.
Individuals can expect one or more inspectors to visit and assess the damaged property. FEMA housing inspectors will usually schedule appointments within seven days following an application. Similarly, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) sends loss verifiers to inspect damaged property for those who have submitted a completed loan application.
Inspections cannot be scheduled until a registration is made by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY at 1-800-462-7585. After calling the toll-free registration line, insured homeowners must file and settle their insurance claim before a FEMA inspector will visit. A letter explaining the process will be sent to applicants. SBA Loss Verifiers will make an appointment to inspect the damages as soon as a completed application is received, regardless of insurance settlement.
State and federal officials stress that under no circumstances will FEMA or SBA inspectors request money or any form of payment for their work.
"We advise applicants to ask for identification from damage inspectors," said Steve Zimmerman, State Coordinating Officer. "All inspectors and verifiers carry official photo identification."
Thirteen Iowa counties were added to the Presidential disaster declaration July 2: Appanoose, Davis, Des Moines, Hamilton, Henry, Louisa, Lucas, Monroe, Muscatine, Scott, Wapello, Washington, and Wayne. Iowans who experienced losses due to severe storms, tornadoes and flooding between May 19 and June 24 may apply for assistance before the July 26 deadline. Recovery specialists are available to take calls 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Aid is now available in these counties under the Individual Assistance program, which is designed to help individuals, families and businesses. Included are housing assistance grants for repairs and short-term rentals, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and Other Needs Assistance grants.
The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division was known as the Iowa Emergency Management Division until July 2003. The current name reflects the dual nature of the Division to provide programs and resources for both homeland security and emergency management efforts.
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.