FEMA outreach teams have begun canvassing parts of the Lincoln County community affected by early summer flooding, as well as the other 19 counties in the state included in last week’s federal disaster declaration.
FEMA spokesperson John Mills said the teams are visiting neighborhoods, going door-to-door, in coordination with local emergency management.
“Local guidance this week will help determine how long FEMA teams will be in the area,” Mills said in an email. “FEMA contract damage inspectors have already conducted several dozen home inspections in Lincoln County, after receiving registrations from residents, and money is already being provided directly to survivors.”
The teams, known as Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSATs), are working in counties that have been designated as federal disaster areas (including those impacted by tornadoes, floods and heavy storms) to assist citizens as they register with FEMA for aid. The teams are working to quickly identify and address immediate and emerging needs. They also can provide application updates and referrals to additional community resources for remaining needs.
Last week, President Donald Trump recently approved Missouri’s Request for a major disaster declaration, opening the doors for aid to residents and businesses in Lincoln, Pike and St. Charles counties, along with 17 other counties throughout the state affected by flooding and other severe weather.
This assistance can include help with making temporary repairs to their disaster-damaged houses, paying for another short-term place to live while permanent repairs are being made and/or help with serious, disaster-related needs not already covered by other programs.
DSAT team members are easily identified by their federal photo IDs and FEMA clothing.
A press release from FEMA reminded residents to ask to see official photo IDs before providing personal information, and to be wary of scammers.
Housing inspectors contracted by FEMA also will be working in disaster-designated counties, inspecting damage sustained by survivors who have already registered with FEMA. When FEMA-contracted inspectors arrive at a home, they will display official photo identification. If the photo identification is not visible, it’s OK to ask to see it. This helps prevent fraud.
Other disaster assistance representatives also may visit property, including insurance agents, damage inspectors and U.S. Small Business Administration staff.
A FEMA employee will not solicit or accept money from disaster survivors, and FEMA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help with registration.
Here are some tips to safeguard against fraud:
Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA representatives wear a federal photo ID badge. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not absolute proof of identity. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with anyone you encounter, please contact local law enforcement.
Beware of people claiming to be Building Contractors going door-to-door. People knocking on doors at damaged homes or phoning homeowners claiming to be building contractors could be con artists, especially if they ask for personal information or solicit money. Be sure to verify federal ID badges of disaster assistance staff who may visit your home.
FEMA does not have “approved” contractors. Beware of building contractors who say they are affiliated with FEMA. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand, or contracts with blank spaces.
If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Always use licensed and bonded contractors, and be sure to ask for credentials. Never pay for anything in advance of work being done.
Residents and families that sustained damage or losses in the flooding this spring and early summer can register for assistance by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-3362, from 7 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week.