MERRILLVILLE, Ind. -- Residents of Lake County who suffered property damage or losses from severe storms and flooding Aug. 15-27, and have registered with FEMA, should soon hear from damage inspectors under contract to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
An inspector will call the contact number the applicant provided and set up a time for inspection. Owners and renters must show proof of occupancy or ownership such as a mortgage payment, utility bill or valid driver's license.
Officials urge disaster victims to be on the alert for scam artists who often show up after a disaster. "We advise applicants to ask for photo identification from anyone claiming to be a FEMA inspector," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Don Keldsen. "All FEMA contract inspectors carry official photo identification and there is no charge for a FEMA inspection."
If someone requests money for an inspection, or if you are suspicious of anyone claiming to be an inspector, do not let that person in your home. Instead, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) for instructions.
An inspector reports any structural damage, as well as personal property losses. Homeowners should identify all known damages and tell inspectors if they have septic systems or wells. Inspectors document the damage but do not determine eligibility for assistance.
There is no need to wait for the inspector's visit before beginning cleanup, but officials advise you to document damage by taking photographs prior to cleanup. Always keep receipts for disaster-related damage repairs already completed, or items purchased for cleanup that may be eligible for reimbursement.
Insurance is primary in recovery so always contact your insurance company first. FEMA may cover some of your uninsured losses and in some cases your home will not be inspected until you notify FEMA of your settlement outcome.
Inspectors will make multiple attempts to contact you, but please make sure your application is updated with a current telephone number. Call the FEMA Helpline, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), to update your application if your number has changed. The TTY number is 1-800-462-7585 for those with speech or hearing impairments.
To apply for disaster assistance, go to www.fema.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The TTY number is 1-800-462-7585 for those with speech or hearing impairments. Both lines are available from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
"Do not wait to register just because you feel someone else might need the money more," said State Coordinating Officer and Executive Director of Indiana Department of Homeland Security J. Eric Dietz. "There are enough disaster funds to take care of every eligible applicant."
Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, uninsurable items and other serious disaster-related needs.
Low-interest disaster loans are made available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for homeowners and renters as well as business owners and private non-profit organizations. Completing an SBA application is a necessary step to be considered for some forms of disaster aid, including possible additional grant assistance. Individuals with SBA questions may visit the Disaster Recovery Center or call the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or TTY 1-800-877-8339 or visit SBA's website at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of ter...