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FEMA crews will survey St. Louis area flooding starting Wednesday

DSA crews help homeowners apply for FEMA aid, help with immediate needs and inform flooding victims about other programs and community resources.

ST. LOUIS — A day after a federal declaration identifying St. Louis area flooding as a major disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced its crews would begin surveying the area this week.

RELATED: Federal disaster declaration approved for July flooding in St. Louis area

FEMA said Disaster Survivor Assistance, or DSA, crews will begin canvassing the damage in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. DSA crews help homeowners apply for FEMA aid, help with immediate needs and inform flooding victims about other programs and community resources.

In order to prevent potential scams, residents should ask for photo identification before providing any personal information. DSA staff members can be easily identified by their FEMA clothing and federal photo IDs.

FEMA home inspectors will also be in the area surveying storm damage. They will also have a photo ID, and it is OK to ask them to provide it before they enter the home.

Other representatives will also be in the area and may visit damaged properties. They may include insurance agents, damage inspectors and Small Business Administration staff. 

"FEMA employees do not solicit or accept money from disaster survivors," a FEMA press release said. "FEMA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help with registration."

The press release also provided additional steps to take to avoid 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 ask for credentials. Never pay for anything in advance of work being done. 

To apply for FEMA aid, go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call FEMA’s toll-free application line at 1-800-621-3362 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Time, seven days a week.

To speed up the process of getting help, flooding victims are encouraged to document damage and save related receipts. The sooner victims apply for FEMA aid, the sooner they may receive assistance.

The deadline for most individual assistance programs is 60 days following the President’s major disaster declaration. That would be Friday, October 7. Disaster assistance to eligible individuals generally falls into the following categories:

  • Housing Assistance may be available for up to 18 months for displaced persons whose residences were heavily damaged or destroyed. Funding also can be provided for housing repairs and replacement of damaged items to make homes habitable.
  • Disaster Grants, which are available to help meet other serious disaster-related needs and necessary expenses not covered by insurance and other aid programs. These may include replacement of personal property, and transportation, medical, dental, and funeral expenses.
  • Low-Interest Disaster Loans are available after a disaster for homeowners and renters from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover uninsured property losses. Loans may be available for repair or replacement of homes, automobiles, clothing, or other damaged personal property. SBA loans are also available to businesses for property loss and economic injury. Businesses can visit sba.gov or call 1-800-569-2955. 
  • Other Disaster Aid Programs include crisis counseling, disaster-related unemployment assistance, legal aid and assistance with income tax, Social Security, and veterans’ benefits.

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