JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- After every disaster, people impacted by it will be contacted by a number of people representing voluntary organizations, construction companies, safety and building officials, and government agencies. High on the list is the call from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) housing inspector.
On-site inspections are an important early step helping to speed aid to homeowners and renters suffering tornado damage. All inspectors carry photo identification and will have the FEMA registration number assigned to the person whose home is being inspected.
Only an official FEMA inspector will have the number that was provided during registration. The FEMA inspection is free. Again, beware of individuals attempting to charge for inspections or remodeling contractors claiming to be FEMA-approved. FEMA does not endorse construction firms.
When a FEMA inspector calls for an appointment, registrants should provide a clear, accurate description of the damaged property and current contact information. Registrants do not have to wait for the inspector to arrive before beginning repairs. Photos, contractor estimates, and receipts can be provided to FEMA inspectors to document the extent of the damage.
The inspection generally takes 30 - 40 minutes, and includes all areas of the home and personal property. The inspector enters damage-related information into a handheld computer and sends that data electronically to FEMA. The inspector does not determine whether a registrant is eligible for assistance, nor the amount of assistance an individual may receive.
Disaster registrants may also receive a call from a representative of the U.S. Small Business Administration, which provides low-interest disaster loans to eligible applicants for long-term recovery. An SBA loan application is included in the FEMA registration materials and is a key part of the registration process. While no one is required to take out an SBA loan, a loan denial may open up other assistance to eligible applicants.
If you suffered damage from the severe storms and tornadoes of May 10-11, live in Jasper, Newton or Barry County and have not registered for assistance, call 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) (TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- and hearing-impaired. Online, register at www.fema.gov.
Telephone lines are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Central Daylight Time, seven days a week. Online registration is available 24 hours. Callers must provide their correct name and Social Security number, address of the damaged property and insurance information.
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 terror.