Evacuees Can Arrange for Home Inspections Without Going Home

October 3, 2005

Evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita who are living in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina or Kentucky and cannot return home yet can still have their homes inspected, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA-contracted inspectors will contact residents who apply for aid to set up an inspection date and time. If applicants can’t be at home, they can identify an authorized agent who can be present during the inspection.

The FEMA inspector will fax an Applicant Authorized Agent Release Form to be signed and returned by fax before the inspection can take place. If the applicant does not have a trusted relative, neighbor or friend that can be the authorized agent, the inspector can offer a FEMA employee to act as an authorized agent and represent the interests of the applicant.

All applicants must provide proof that they occupied the residence to be inspected at the time of the disaster, whether they rented or own the home. Occupancy can be verified with a copy of a drivers’ license, other photo identification with address, a utility bill, or a credit card statement showing the physical address of the residence. Those who do not have written documentation should be prepared to provide the name of their landlord or mortgage company and the name of their insurance company, if they have one.

Homeowners who apply for aid must verify ownership through a property tax receipt, mortgage payment stub, or the cover sheet of the homeowner’s insurance policy. If the applicant cannot be present at the inspection, this information should be provided by fax to the FEMA-contracted inspector before the inspection is scheduled.

If the dwelling is not locked, the inspector can enter to perform a complete inspection. If the home is locked or unsafe to enter, the inspector will do an exterior inspection. Personal property will be visually verified through windows where possible. In many cases, this type of inspection provides adequate verification of damaged property.

In all cases applicants should make sure that FEMA has their current contact information. Applicants can update their phone number or mailing address by calling the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585 or make the changes online at www.fema.gov.

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