PEARL, Miss. – (RealEstateRama) — Outreach teams from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are canvassing disaster-damaged neighborhoods around Mississippi.
The teams are working in federal disaster-designated counties to give residents an opportunity to register for disaster assistance and to quickly identify and address immediate and emerging needs. The teams can also provide application updates and referrals to additional resources for remaining needs.
These mobile team members can be easily identified by their photo identifications and MEMA or FEMA clothing. Mississippi residents are reminded to ask for photo identification before providing personal information.
Housing inspectors contracted by FEMA are also working in disaster-designated counties, inspecting damage sustained by survivors who have already registered with FEMA.
When FEMA inspectors arrive at a home, they will display official photo identification. If the photo identification is not displayed, it is important to ask to see it. This helps prevent fraud.
Disaster-designated counties include: Bolivar, Clarke, Coahoma, Forrest, Greene, Jones, Marion, Panola, Perry, Quitman, Sunflower, Tunica, Washington and Wayne.
Outreach teams and inspectors began working in Bolivar, Coahoma and Washington counties after the initial major disaster declaration of March 25, 2016. Governor Bryant’s request for 11 additional counties was approved March 31. The outreach teams and inspectors will also be working in those counties in the coming days and weeks.
To begin the process, survivors need to register with FEMA and report uninsured or underinsured damage to their homes, vehicles or other personal property. An inspector will then contact the applicant and schedule an appointment to visit the home.
To speed the inspection process, applicants should:
- Ensure their home or mailbox number is clearly visible from the road.
- Keep their appointment or notify the inspector if a postponement is necessary.
- Be present for the inspection or authorize another person who is 18 years or older to act as their agent and be present on their behalf during the inspection if they have evacuated and cannot return for the inspection.
- Be reachable, informing neighbors where they can be contacted if they are not staying in the home.
- Tell the inspector about other property losses or disaster-related needs such as transportation, medical or dental care, tools needed for a trade if not self-employed and educational materials, so inspectors can relay the information to FEMA.
- Take photos of their homes, if possible, which can be used to supplement photos taken by the inspector. Document all damage.
After documenting and photographing damage, survivors should begin cleanup and repairs. Survivors need to check with their county or city governments about any permitting that may be required before doing major repairs. They should also keep all receipts for disaster-related expenses.
The damage inspection generally lasts 20-45 minutes. As part of the inspection process, homeowners are asked to show proof of ownership, such as a tax bill, a deed, mortgage payment receipt or insurance policy with the property’s address. Renters must show proof of occupancy, a lease, rent payment receipt, utility bill or other document confirming the location was their primary residence at the time of the disaster. Both homeowners and renters also must have a valid driver’s license or other photo identification.
Inspectors document disaster-related damage, but do not determine the applicant’s eligibility for FEMA assistance. They check for damage to the structure and building systems, to major appliances and septic systems and wells, and enter information into an electronic device that sends the information to FEMA. This speeds up the process of providing assistance.
A U.S. Small Business Administration loss verifier also may schedule an appointment with applicants who have completed an SBA loan application. Like FEMA inspectors, SBA loss verifiers and insurance adjusters are required to carry identification. Residents should ask to see a photo ID if any inspector comes to their home.
People who sustained disaster-related damage in any of the 14 designated Mississippi counties can register for assistance by calling FEMA’s helpline at 800-621-3362, which is video relay service accessible. Survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have difficulty speaking may call TTY 800-462-7585.Helpline hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, seven days a week until further notice. Survivors can also register online at DisasterAssistance.gov.
In addition to the outreach teams, survivors can also speak in person with state, federal and voluntary agency representatives by visiting a disaster recovery center. Centers are open in Bolivar, Coahoma and Washington counties. Centers are planned in additional counties in the coming days. To locate the nearest center, call the FEMA helpline or go to fema.gov/drc.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.
FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.