HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are contacting disaster applicants in DeKalb, Marshall and Walker counties whose primary home or rental residence sustained losses from late April’s storms and tornadoes. Legitimate FEMA inspectors won’t ask for personal information, such as a Social Security number, or request payment at the time of the inspection.
Inspectors are private contractors who wear official FEMA identification. When inspectors call, they will confirm registration details, including Social Security numbers. But authorized inspectors will not ask for these details and will not approach an applicant without prior contact.
The U.S. Small Business Administration and various insurance companies also have inspectors in the field.
Here Is What To Expect:
Inspector's Call: After an applicant registers – either online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) – a 9-digit application number is assigned. An inspector will then call to schedule an appointment to visit the damaged property – generally no longer than 10 days after registration.
Inspector's Visit: Keep the scheduled appointment to make sure the assistance process moves quickly.
When inspectors visit, they are assessing disaster-related damage for both real and personal property. Inspectors file damage reports, but they do not determine eligibility.
The inspector’s visit typically takes 15 minutes to as long as 45 minutes.
The applicant – or someone who is 18 or older and lived in the household prior to the disaster – must be present for the scheduled appointment. The inspector will ask for identification and proof of ownership and occupancy (for homeowners) and occupancy only (for renters). People affected by the tornado can speed up the process by having the appropriate documents on hand:
- A photo ID to prove identity, such as driver’s license or passport
- Proof of occupancy, which may include
- A utility bill from with the address of the damaged home and the applicant's name listed or a merchant's statement, credit card bills, delivery notices or other first class mail addressed to the applicant and showing the address of the damaged home;
- Employer's pay stubs and similar documents addressed to the applicant and showing the address of the damaged home;
- Current driver's license showing the address of the damaged home.
- Proof of ownership, such as:
- Deed showing applicant as the legal owner; or
- Title that lists applicant on actual escrow or title document for the purchase of the home;
- Mortgage payment book that names the applicant along with the address of the damaged home;
- Real property insurance policy for the damaged home with applicant's name listed as the insured;
- Tax receipts or a property tax bill that lists the address of the damaged home and the applicant as the responsible party to the assessments.
After the Inspector's Visit: The applicant receives a letter from FEMA containing a decision within 10 days of the inspector's visit.
If the applicant is eligible for assistance, the letter will be followed by a check or an electronic funds transfer. The letter explains what the money can be used for.
If the applicant is not eligible for assistance the letter will give the reason(s) for denial. Applicants will be informed of their right to appeal, and information on the appeal process.
If applicants are referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), they will receive an SBA low-interest loan application in the mail. Applicants do not have to accept this loan option.