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Story Archives: Storm recovery center to open in Vidalia Nov. 17-29
|Storm recovery center to open in Vidalia Nov. 17-29|
A Discovery Recovery Center (DRC) will be opened in Vidalia next week by the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency (FEMA) to handle Hurricane Gustav damage claims in Concordia Parish.
Concordia Homeland Security Director Morris White said the center will be located in the Bryant O. Hammett Conference & Convention on the riverfront in Vidalia.
The center will be open Nov. 17 through Nov. 29, with the exception on Sunday, November 23.
Office hours will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"Anyone who thinks they had damage from the hurricane should go the DRC," said White. "Even if you already have made a call to FEMA you can still handle your claim at the DRC."
FEMA, along with the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Louisiana Attorney General, cautioned victims of hurricanes Gustav and Ike this week to be wary of fraud and misinformation.
Residents should be sure they are dealing with federal representatives before providing any personal information and should contact FEMA if they have questions or concerns about the truthfulness of claims made by third parties through word of mouth or in print.
In the wake of natural disasters, it is not uncommon for victims to be taken unaware by someone claiming to be an official disaster aid worker. To safeguard against disaster-related fraud, officials recommend the following precautions:
Ask for ID. If someone claims to be a federal employee, such as an inspector, residents should ask to see identification. A FEMA or U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) shirt or jacket is not absolute proof of someone's affiliation with the government. Federal employees carry official, laminated photo identification. Applicants may receive a visit from more than one inspector or verifier.
Safeguard personal information. Do not give personal information such as Social Security and bank account numbers to individuals claiming to be affiliated with the federal government. FEMA inspectors never require this information. A Social Security or bank account number is requested during the first phone call to register with FEMA. On any follow-up calls, a FEMA representative may ask for the last four digits of your social security number for identification purposes.
Beware of people going door-to-door. People going door-to-door to damaged homes or phoning victims and claiming to be building contractors, could be frauds. If visitors or callers solicit personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers, they are not for real. Note that FEMA Community Relations staff may visit homes, shelters and hotels to distribute flyers. They will not solicit personal information.
Federal workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and SBA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications. If in doubt, do not give out information, and report people claiming to be government workers to local police.
FEMA inspectors verify damage but do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs.
FEMA encourages anyone who believes she or he may have witnessed fraudulent activity to report it immediately through the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General's Hurricane Fraud Hotline 1-866-720-5721.
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