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Sunday, May 8th, 2011
Atlanta, GA. -- Several thousand Georgia residents are expected to seek federal assistance for their losses from the severe storms and tornadoes that began April 27, according to disaster recovery officials.
Recording the damage at each individual household is the responsibility of inspectors sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Identifying damage is an early step in determining the amount and types of assistance that may be provided.
“Our inspectors have been averaging more than 200 households every day,” said FEMA’s Gracia Sczech, the federal coordinating officer. “Currently, it takes about two days from the time a survivor registers for assistance and the time he or she sees an inspector.”
Inspections are a key component in the recovery process. Being ready when the inspector visits can speed assistance. To schedule an appointment to inspect your damaged home, a FEMA inspector will contact you at the number you provided FEMA when you registered. Please provide the inspector with clear, accurate directions to the damaged property. A physical address is necessary; post office boxes do not show locations.
FEMA contracts for all inspections. The inspector is required to carry identification that includes his or her photo and ID number. When the inspector comes to your home, ask to see the identification.
Be prepared to provide written proof of ownership, such as a tax receipt, deed, mortgage payment book, or home insurance policy showing the damaged property’s address.
The inspector will not ask you for your Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number, or medical information. If someone claiming to be with FEMA asks you to provide such information, call “9-1-1” immediately.
Whether you are an owner or a renter, you must show that the damaged property was your primary residence at the time of the disaster. Inspectors will accept a valid driver’s license or current utility bill (such as an electric, gas or water bill) as proof of occupancy.
The inspection is free. It usually takes between 45 minutes and an hour and consists of measuring the real property, inspecting its contents, and recording the findings.
Using a handheld electronic device, the inspector creates a digital “model” of the damaged home and uses it to indicate where damage occurred. The device — called an inspector’s pad —transmits information electronically to FEMA. This speeds up the process of providing assistance.
The inspector will ask to see damage to both real property and personal property in all areas of your home. This is to inventory both the type and extent of loss. For example, not all disaster damage results in a complete loss. The inspector’s report will show which items are total losses, which items can be repaired, and which are not affected. If an item can be repaired, FEMA will not replace it with a new one.
Finally, the inspector does not determine whether you are eligible for assistance and should not tell you what you may or may not receive. Typically, in 10 days or less after the inspector’s visit, you will receive a letter from FEMA containing an initial decision. This initial decision can be reviewed or clarified by calling 1-678-438-7663 or in person at a Disaster Recovery Center.
More than a thousand homes have been inspected since the federal disaster declaration on April 29, 2011. More than $2.3 million has been approved for the almost 2,700 Georgia residents who have registered to date.
Additional information on the process is available at www.disasterassistance.gov.