What to expect when a FEMA inspector comes to your home

Published 3:30 am Wednesday, October 13, 2004

By Staff
Special to The Standard
Alabamians who have applied for disaster assistance can expect to have their homes inspected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) once they have applied for disaster assistance.
Currently 345 FEMA inspectors are in Alabama visiting homes in disaster declared counties. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and insurance companies also have inspectors in the field.
After applying for disaster assistance by calling the FEMA registration number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- or hearing-impaired, a FEMA inspector may contact you to schedule an appointment to inspect your home. Please note: Disaster officials are asking people to be patient, and to call during off-hours if possible to reduce call volume at peak times.
When the inspector calls, be sure to give clear, accurate directions to the damaged property, the street address and a current phone number where you can be reached. Post office boxes do not show locations.
In some instances the inspector may come without an appointment. This is especially true if phone systems are not working. If you are not home, the inspector will leave a letter and a contact phone number.
In areas of concentrated damages, inspectors often go "door-to-door" and "group" applicants. This, with a simpler survey form, enables the inspector to process information more quickly. The inspector categorizes damage and inventories only damaged property, rather than all property. Once an inspector reaches a threshold of damage, the inspection is complete.
Inspectors will still ask if you have unmet needs (medical, transportation, dental), and will note if you have insurance coverage.
"We are working quickly to meet the needs of those affected by the disaster," said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Hall. "A visit by an inspector is an important step in the recovery process."
Here are some of the things homeowners should be aware of when a FEMA inspector arrives:
Owners must show proof of ownership, such as a deed, tax form or insurance policy with the home's address. Renters can provide a utility bill or merchant statement to verify occupancy.
The inspection is free. It generally takes minutes. The inspector enters information into a hand-held computer that immediately transmits it to FEMA. This speeds up the assistance process. Please understand that the inspector does not determine your eligibility for assistance.
SBA is the federal government's primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries.