PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- As residents are seeking help from contractors to repair and rebuild their homes and businesses damaged by the mid-April severe storms and flooding. Most contractors have good reputations and are hard working individuals. Some people, however, try to take advantage of urgent repair needs in the aftermath of a disaster.
"Be especially alert for door-to-door solicitors who hand out make-shift flyers and ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full," said Lt. George Georgeles, state coordinating officer.
"In most cases, if the offer seems too good to be true," said Peter Martinasco, federal coordinating officer, "it probably is." Georgeles and Martinasco recommend the following tips before hiring a contractor:
- Look first to licensed local contractors who have performed well in the past.
- Ask the contractor for the names and phone numbers of past customers.
- Some home improvement stores and trade associations keep lists of contractors who work in the community.
- Get more than one estimate.
- Make sure that the contractor that you select is licensed and insured.
- Get the contract in writing.
- When possible pay by check or money order, not with cash.
- Always insist on a receipt.
- Immediately alert the Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General's Office if a contractor starts a project but does not return to complete it.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau for further help in choosing a contractor.
FEMA and NJOEM work together to coordinate the federal and state governments' roles in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against; call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585