RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Damage inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are continuing to assess storm-damaged residences in Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Shannon County, just one week after President Clinton declared those areas eligible for federal disaster assistance.
Inspectors are in the area examining residences and personal property that were damaged by storms and tornadoes that swept through the region June 4 and 5.
"You must first apply for federal/state disaster assistance before inspectors will visit your damaged property," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Peter Bakersky. "You can apply by calling the FEMA toll-free registration number: 1-800-462-9029. Persons who are hearing-or speech-impaired may call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585."
Disaster recovery officials stated that proof of ownership and/or occupancy is required, but for people who have lost their documentation, arrangements have been made to verify this information with tribal officials. Insurance papers, if available, should also be provided to the inspector. All of the information gathered during the registration and inspection processes is necessary to determine eligibility.
Applicants are also urged to ask for proper identification before allowing unfamiliar persons claiming to be inspectors into their homes. In most cases, inspectors will be accompanied by Tribal members.
"These inspectors will have specific agency identification showing that they are in fact authorized to do an inspection," said Bakersky. "Also, official inspectors will not be charging any fees to perform this service. Residents should report anyone who requests an inspection fee to the nearest law enforcement agency."
An inspector will assess the extent of home damage and whether it is livable, by checking the structure and its systems. Damage to personal property, such as furniture, appliances, clothing and automobiles, will also be assessed during the inspection.
Officials also note that more than one agency may be inspecting damaged property. FEMA schedules its inspections within three to five days of the time an applicant registers for assistance. Other agencies that may be looking at damages include the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the American Red Cross.
Anyone having questions about the inspection process or other questions about their applications should call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-525-0321 or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for those with hearing or speech impairments.