FEMA to visit Irma-stricken neighborhoods in Hillsborough

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.  (WFLA) –  Hurricane Irma may be long gone but there’s plenty of destruction and devastation left behind.

That’s why, starting this morning, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be canvassing neighborhoods throughout Hillsborough County to answer questions on how residents can receive federal funds.

The crews will register people so that once the federal money starts flowing, then they’re already in line to get it.

Some county officials feel they dodged a bullet, but not people who live in some communities like those along the Alafia River that were particular hard hit.  Many peoples’ homes and their belongings covered by flood waters.

People who are approved for the funding will receive funds to help cover storm damage, rent, and food that spoiled since the power went out.

“Because all my meats, all my meats, them spoiled,” said Shelen Jones. “Yeah, because all my meats, all my meats, them spoiled.  I have to throw everything away.  Oh no.”

While others are still in shock from the hurricane’s intensity and not necessarily thinking about asking for help.

“But, you still don’t expect it,” said Gloria Francine Maxwell.  “And, the wind was deafening. I ended up in the bathroom in the middle of the house in the tub.”

When FEMA officials come to your door, you’ll need to provide the address of the damaged property, the name of your private insurance company, as well as your phone and social security numbers.

Residents should exercise caution when contracting for home repairs. Residents can report fraudulent or suspicious contractors by calling the Hillsborough County disaster fraud hotline at (813) 635-8316. Hotline hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Here are some tips to guard against fraud:

  • Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA representatives wear a federal photo ID badge. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not proof of identity. If you doubt someone’s credentials, contact local law enforcement.
  • Beware of people 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.
  • Verify federal ID badges of disaster assistance staff.
  • FEMA Disaster survivor assistance teams never ask for or accept payment for their services.
  • FEMA does not have “approved” contractors. Beware of contractors who say they are affiliated with FEMA. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand or contracts with blank spaces.




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