The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says designated counties for individual assistance following Hurricane Matthew include Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington. As well, Hamilton, Madison, Suwanee and Taylor counties are eligible for public assistance (Assistance to State, Local, Tribal and Territorial governments and certain private-non-profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.)
FEMA says as of Oct. 18, it has approved $4,217,927.45 in individual assistance applications. This number is likely to increase.
The agency also reports that scammers are misrepresenting the agency’s work.
“There have been reports of FEMA inspectors asking for personal information or charging for services such as damage inspections or contractor repairs,” FEMA says in a statement. “This is a scam.”
“Scam artists may pose as government officials, aid workers, charitable organizations, or insurance company employees,” FEMA says, advising individuals to follow these steps:
- Do not respond to texts, phone calls or personal requests seeking your personal information. The only time you should provide personal information is during the initial application process for FEMA help or when you initiate contact with FEMA to follow up on an application. FEMA inspectors only require verification of identity.
- Ask for identification and don’t be afraid to hang up on cold callers.
- Contact government agencies using information posted on their websites or in other official sources.
- Don’t trust someone who asks for money. Federal and local disaster workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications.
- Don’t sign anything you don’t understand or contracts with blank spaces.
- Use licensed or verified local contractors backed by reliable references.