TRENTON, N.J. -- Residents living in any one of the nine counties affected by the severe storms and flooding may need to have their homes or businesses inspected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or insurance companies.
FEMA inspectors are currently visiting homes in the counties of Bergen, Essex, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and Warren counties.
After applying for disaster assistance by calling the FEMA registration number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY), a FEMA inspector will usually contact the applicant within five to seven days to schedule an appointment to inspect their home.
Applicants who receive an SBA loan application are urged to fill it out even if they do not think they qualify for a loan. Not filling it out may limit the assistance they would otherwise receive. An SBA loss verifier will also schedule an inspection appointment after SBA receives the completed loan application.
"We are working quickly to meet the needs of those affected by the disaster," said Federal Coordinating Officer, Peter J. Martinasco. "We have already completed the inspection of more than 1,100 homes."
When the inspector calls, residents should be prepared to give clear, accurate directions to the damaged property and a current phone number where they can be reached. A street address is needed. A post office box can not be substituted.
The damage inspection is a required part of the recovery process.
FEMA inspectors, SBA loss verifiers and insurance adjusters are required to carry current identification. An inspector must provide identification. The inspectors are following schedules and may inspect houses scheduled for inspections.
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. Having the necessary documentation can help speed up the inspection process.
Federal law prohibits duplication of benefits and fraudulent claims are reported to the Attorney General’s office.
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 current utility bill (such as an electric, gas or water bill) as proof of occupancy.
The inspection is free. It generally takes 30-40 minutes, and consists of inspecting all damages and a review of 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.
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.