FEMA: Storm survivors should be wary of potential scams

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Several communities in Hale County are still in recovery mode weeks after an EF2 tornado blew through.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency began offering in-person assistance for Hale County residents Tuesday. No one was seeking help at the Akron Public Library when WVUA 23 stopped by Tuesday, but FEMA workers said they’d helped a few residents earlier in the day.

“We can’t get you back to that pre-disaster condition you were in, but we can help you begin the process,” said FEMA spokesperson Darrell Habish.

Something else FEMA wants, Habish said, is ensuring residents who were impacted by the storms don’t get scammed. Don’t be afraid to ask for the credentials of anyone who says they’re interested in helping you on the road to recovery.

“If someone is reluctant to provide FEMA identification, they are not us,” he said. “If they are offering to cut through the red tape for a certain amount of money, whether it’s $100 or $500, they are not us. We never, ever ask for money.”

Habish said these scams are becoming more and more common.

“People who prey on other peoples’ misfortune are just the worst,” Habish said. “These folks come out of the woodwork after every disaster. When you are emotional and want some assistance and relief, everybody is looking for that comfort. They become susceptible. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of scams or fraud.”

If you were impacted by the storms in Hale County, FEMA agents are standing by and ready to get you back on your feet. They’re set up at the Akron Public Library from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

You can also get help in the following ways:

If you need assistance, be sure you have the following on hand:

  • A phone number where you can be contacted
  • Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying
  • Your Social Security number
  • A general list of damage and losses
  • Banking information if you choose direct deposit
  • If insured, the policy number or the agent and/or the company name

If you have homeowners, renters or flood insurance, file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. FEMA will not duplicate any benefits for losses that are covered by insurance, but if your policy doesn’t cover all your disaster expenses, you may be eligible for federal assistance.

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