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Remote Inspections are Making it Safer for Texas Survivors Seeking Damage Assessments

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To help those affected by February’s severe winter storms, FEMA has been on the ground in Texas for more than a week. We’re moving water, fuel and blankets, and are readying new supplies to help survivors.

We’re already helping people in the 108 declared counties whose primary homes or property have been damaged by the snow and ice. We’re providing grants for temporary housing, home repairs and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

FEMA began virtual inspections the day after President Biden issued the Major Disaster Declaration for the Severe Winter Storms in Texas and, in the first three days, 1600 inspectors approved more than $2.5 million of disaster assistance.

How do I apply for assistance?

If you have insurance and are applying for disaster assistance, you must also file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. If insurance does not cover all your damage, you may be eligible for federal assistance. The fastest and easiest way to apply is by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov. You can also call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT, seven days a week.

How is FEMA protecting the health and safety of disaster survivors?

At FEMA, the COVID-19 pandemic drove the need to find a way to provide services to those impacted by disasters without putting survivors or our staff at risk. “Prior to the pandemic, FEMA relied on our damage assessors to go to the homes to verify the damage that occurred,” said Field Services Section Chief Ken Jackson. “Now we obviously have to do all of this remotely.

How does the remote inspection process work?

After you’ve completed a FEMA application, a FEMA inspector will contact you by phone to answer questions about the type and extent of damage sustained.

“We call the applicant, we walk through these critical elements to their homes, to their personal property to determine the level of damage,” said Jackson. In many instances FEMA can validate damage using video calls if the survivor has the capability to do so.

Reasonable accommodations, including translation and ASL interpreters via Video Relay Service, will be available to ensure effective communication with applicants with limited English proficiency, applicants with disabilities, and other individuals with access and functional needs.

While some aspects of program delivery may look different this year, our commitment to helping people before, during and after disaster remains our full focus and we are ready to deliver on our mission.

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Last updated June 24, 2021