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Virtual Home Inspections Offered After Texas Winter Storm

FEMA is leveraging technology to deliver the agency’s programs at the highest level possible while preserving our workforce and survivors. FEMA will conduct virtual home inspections for Texas survivors in designated counties who sustained damage after the winter storms that began February 11.

What to Expect After Applying for FEMA Assistance

After applying for FEMA assistance, FEMA may contact uninsured or underinsured Texans to schedule a virtual home inspection for applicants who reported that their home is not safe, sanitary, or functional.

Applicants who self-reported during registration that they received minimal damage and can live in their homes will not automatically be scheduled for a home inspection. Instead, they will receive a letter from FEMA explaining that they may call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) to request an assessment if the owner finds significant disaster-caused damage to their home after they applied.

What to Expect During a Virtual Inspection

Inspectors will initiate the virtual inspection process by contacting the applicant via the telephone numbers listed in the application. The inspector will ask the applicant if they would like to perform the inspection and, in many cases, offer it via video streaming using Apple FaceTime or Zoom Video Communications. Inspectors are trained to
help the applicant with downloading and signing-up to Zoom Video if necessary.

If an applicant needs a reasonable accommodation, including translation and ASL interpreters, they may respond to question number 24 about people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. They may also request accommodation or service at the time of the inspection or during the recovery process.

▪ FEMA does this by having the applicant provide a relay service number such as a videophone, Innocaption, or CapTel. Make sure FEMA has that as your contact number in your application. If you are communicating through Zoom or FaceTime, you can request an interpreter through Facetime or an interpreter and captioning through Zoom.
▪ A household member, relative, or friend may also assist in communicating with the inspector. During the inspection, there are questions about the type and extent of damage sustained. During the video streaming, the applicant will have the opportunity to show the inspector their areas of concern. Such as roof, windows, floor, ceiling, basements, access points, habitability, rooms, furniture, appliances, Americans with Disabilities Act items (such as ramps and grab bars), etc.
▪ A video assessment can be combined with an exterior-only inspection when necessary. For more information on the process, please watch the video below to see what to expect. Visit the FEMA YouTube
page: FEMA Uses Technology to Conduct Inspections for Disaster Survivors – YouTube.

Determination
▪ Based on existing eligibility criteria, FEMA may provide grants for home repairs and replacing certain essential personal property items.
▪ Home repair grants are provided based on the type of residence and the applicant’s responses during the virtual inspection. FEMA assistance is limited to making essential repairs to make certain areas of a home
livable. Those areas include the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and currently occupied bedrooms.

If You Can’t Do a Virtual Inspection
▪ FEMA conducts video streaming inspections in a limited capacity. Applicants who cannot participate with video through Zoom or Facetime will speak with inspectors by phone.
▪ If video is not possible, the inspector will guide through a series of questions to evaluate the damage.

Keep in Touch with FEMA
▪ Part of the FEMA disaster assistance registration process includes providing a callback phone number for FEMA to contact the applicant to set up a virtual home inspection for damage caused by the disaster and
other helpline information.
▪ It is essential to update the contact information if it changes. Applicants may update contact information online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov by downloading the FEMA app or calling the helpline number.
▪ Applicants who use a relay service, such as InnoCaption or CapTel, should provide their specific number assigned to that service. It is important that FEMA can contact them. Applicants should be aware phone calls from FEMA may come from an unidentified number.