HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are conducting damage assessments for homeowners and renters on the Big Island . This inspection is an important step in the recovery process and will help speed disaster assistance to those whose property was damaged by the October 15 Earthquake.
"State Civil Defense and FEMA personnel are working closely together to meet the needs of everyone who has suffered loses," said State Coordinating Officer Ed Teixeira. "When an inspector calls, an applicant can help speed their assistance by setting up a meeting quickly."
FEMA inspectors visit homes by appointment (or, if they are in the vicinity, they may knock on the door). When the inspector calls, applicants should provide clear, accurate directions to the damaged property and a current phone number where they can be reached. A street address is needed. Do not use a post office box address.
All inspectors carry proper identification and applicants should ask to see it. If you have already begun cleanup or repairs to your home, show the inspector what you have done, and, if you have it, provide documentation of the work such as photos, contractor estimates and receipts.
"The FEMA inspector will ask you questions that are important in determining your eligibility for FEMA grant programs," said FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer, Mike Karl. This information is protected by the Privacy Act. "FEMA does not share this information - and we do not condemn property. FEMA inspects damaged property for disaster recovery program purposes only."
The inspection is free. It generally takes 30-40 minutes, and consists of inspecting all areas of the home and personal property. The inspector enters damage-related information into a hand-held computer and sends that data to a FEMA processing center.. The inspector does not determine whether an applicant is eligible for assistance.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also has inspectors working in areas affected by the October 15 earthquake. When an individual submits a disaster loan application to the SBA, in most cases the SBA will inspect the damaged property to determine the cost of repair or replacement.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.