COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A word of caution to individuals with damages from the recent severe winter storm: be wary of promises for reimbursement for generator purchases or debris removal from private property. Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have received reports that some vendors are going door-to-door offering services or goods to help residents recover from the severe winter storm of last weekend.
Some have told residents that FEMA/SEMA will reimburse them for the cost of a generator or for their work in removing storm debris from private property. Officials emphasize that these costs for individuals are not reimbursable under the present disaster declaration.
“In every disaster, there are always a few unscrupulous individuals who want to profit from the recovery effort,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Karl. “We work closely with the state to ensure that individuals are not injured again by invalid assurances.”
Some contractors have claimed to be “FEMA/SEMA certified.” Neither FEMA nor SEMA endorse or recommend any private business.
If you have been approached by someone claiming they are “FEMA/SEMA certified” to remove debris, or that charges to you for work or a generator will be reimbursed by FEMA or SEMA, you should contact your local law enforcement officials or the Attorney General Fraud Hotline at 800-392-8222.
Under the federal disaster declaration for the severe winter storm, public entities in 35 jurisdictions are eligible to apply for reimbursement for costs incurred for storm debris pickup and emergency protective measure taken before and during the response. These funds are made available to local governments and certain private non-profit organizations for costs incurred. Individuals who have storm-related damages may request assistance from local officials or voluntary agencies.
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.