In the wake of any widespread natural disaster come entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on restoration and reconstruction work.  Some of these companies are good and some are just plain opportunistic.

Following the recent flooding we have received reports that homeowners in Putnam County and Ottawa have been receiving phone calls from a person or persons claiming to be from FEMA and asking them to register and to supply personal information. Residents should not respond to these calls. 

While FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is the government arm that aids disaster victims, they DO NOT call disaster victims.  You may contact FEMA and register for assistance by going to their website (www.fema.gov) or calling 1-800-621-3362.

Here some things to consider in the next few days:

• Check with your insurance agency about coverage any specific filing requirements the company may have.  Not all are the same.

• Everybody wants to get back to normal as fast as possible, however don't become over-anxious to do so. Don't be pressured into signing a long term contract.  Make enough temporary repairs to get by and then take your time in shopping around for a contractor to make major permanent repairs. 

• Check references and get a reliability report from the BBB.  Talk to your neighbors.

• Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim your home is unsafe.  Any concerns about structural, electrical, or gas line safety should be referred to a professional engineer or inspector.

• Always get everything in writing when dealing with contractors spelling out work to be done, price, and finish date.

Many of the companies that show up in the aftermath of a flood disaster are out of area opportunists who do not necessarily have the homeowner's welfare in mind.  On the other hand some just want to help,.  Sifting the wheat from the chaff is a difficult task and can take some time.  In the long run that time is time well spent.