WHITELAND, Ind. — Indiana tornado victims are getting a new level of help starting Wednesday.
Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are going door to door in 12 Indiana communities impacted by recent tornadoes to make sure Hoosiers get the support they need.
Disaster-torn towns like Whiteland are starting to transform back to normal as piles of debris no longer sit scattered across many yards.
“To see where we’ve come from the first night that it hit and the damage and destruction that was all throughout the county,” Whiteland Fire Chief Eric Funkhouser described. “Just to kind of come through here now and to see the difference of how clean everything is, all the streets being open, and not even knowing some of the areas where it even hit anymore, it’s pretty amazing.”
Funkhouser said the town looks better each week, all thanks to the helping hands.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “The amount of volunteers who stepped up since day one has been fantastic.”
FEMA is now making sure those who lost it all have a path to full recovery.
“Our mission is to help people, even if that’s meeting them where they are,” said local FEMA spokesperson Craig Browning. “That’s what’s most important.”
As FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams now go door to door, the agency also wants to prevent anyone from becoming another type of victim.
“It’s unfortunate that there are folks in society that prey on people in their worst time,” Browning said. “But we do have safeguards in effect when disasters happen.”
If anyone tries to impersonate a FEMA worker, Browning said there are clear signs to look for to make sure you are not being scammed.
“There is a FEMA outfit, typically a FEMA vest,” he said. “They have federal identification that you can ask for. Ask to see that identification.”
Browning said asking for identification is the best way to prevent a scam, but disaster victims should never be afraid to report any concerns to the police if they are suspicious.
“If you suspect somebody’s committing fraud or trying to scam you through this recovery process, the first step is to report that to your local law enforcement,” he said.
Hoosiers needing FEMA support can also apply by calling the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362, registering online, or on the FEAM app.