BATON ROUGE, La. -- More than 1,200 contract home inspectors, working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are fanning out across Hurricane Katrina-affected parishes throughout the state to reach damaged homes.
After residents apply for aid through FEMA, inspectors call to set up a time for an inspection of the home. That is why it is important that applicants give FEMA a valid contact number. If they need to change the phone number they gave FEMA at the time they applied, they can call the FEMA Helpline at (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or make the change online at www.fema.gov. When inspectors arrive at the home, they have a series of things to check; the inspection does not take long. Their job is to verify the damages. They do not determine the residents' eligibility.
Hurricane Katrina is a disaster of record proportions. The huge numbers of applicants for FEMA aid after this massive event has created the need for hundreds of thousands of homes to be inspected. As people who have suffered damages from last weekend's Hurricane Rita are also applying for FEMA aid, the numbers of homes needing to be inspected across Louisiana will increase significantly.
The inspection is a necessary step toward processing residents' applications for FEMA assistance. Ordinarily, if a resident's home or its contents are damaged and they do not have insurance, an inspector should contact them within 10 to 14 days after they apply to schedule a time to meet them at the damaged home. In areas where access is still severely limited, it may take longer for an inspection.
For Katrina evacuees whose homes remain inaccessible and cannot be inspected, the recently announced program of Expedited Transitional Housing assistance, through a partnership of FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, offers three months of rental assistance while the recovery process continues in their home area.
The inspectors continue working hard to reach all residents who need inspections. Applicants from Hurricane Katrina who applied more than two weeks ago and have not yet had a call from an inspector may call the Helpline at (800) 621-FEMA (3362) to inquire about the status of their application.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003