Floridians Have Help in Rebuilding Process

August 16, 2005

Panhandle Floridians beginning the process of repairing their homes damaged by Hurricane Dennis reportedly have a good friend in the Disaster Contractors Network (DCN), available to them online at www.dcnonline.org.

Residents who are repairing and/or rebuilding their homes can find a list of state-licensed contractors plus a variety of relevant articles and resources by logging on to the DCN Web site. Licensure may also be verified through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation by calling (850) 487-1395 or visiting www.MyFloridaLicense.com.

The DCN program is a tool to help prevent anyone hiring a contractor from being defrauded. After accessing the site, the homeowner signs in and is able to place a “need” request for specific areas where contractor work is required. In addition to a click-and-choose menu, a response box allows the individual to write in any details or questions. Registered contractors have the ability to review the site and get in contact with the person placing the need.

Disaster recovery officials caution residents not to sign contracts or make down payments without first receiving written estimates from contractors, and to avoid offers that seem too good to refuse. People should ask for references and check with relatives or friends before choosing a contractor.

“If you have disaster-related damages, be very careful when contracting for repairs to your home and property,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Justin DeMello of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. “We do not want you to become a victim a second time.”

The DCN was created by Florida State University along with several state agencies and professional organizations, and is funded by FEMA.

“There are a number of measures people can take when building or rebuilding after a disaster to better protect themselves and their property,” said State Coordinating Officer Craig Fugate of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT). “These measures are fully described in publications developed by FEMA and SERT. These publications may be obtained at any of the six FEMA/SERT Disaster Recovery Centers now open.”

Floridians now have an opportunity to build or repair their hurricane-damaged homes in a much safer, stronger and smarter way. Measures taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from hazards can range from constructing “safe rooms” to the simpler steps of elevating or relocating electrical panels, or correctly using hurricane clips and metal straps.

FEMA is conducting informal demonstrations at selected home center retail outlets, Wednesdays through Mondays, until further notice. Individuals can meet one-on-one with FEMA technical specialists, trained in the use of the DCN program, and receive technical assistance with their particular repair projects.

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