It started as a way to help his parents.
Then, it became more formal as he recently completed training in September to become an official independent contractor for home inspections following Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines after natural disasters.
Gulfport’s Mayor Sam Henderson said the idea to take the formal training “came about when I was helping my parents. They were trying to file their FEMA claim regarding their house that got blown away during [Hurricane] Harvey. They’re not extremely computer savvy. At first, they didn’t even feel as though their situation was applicable and I told them, ‘Yes, you’re the type of people they’re looking for because you’ve actually lost your home.’”
While he was doing research, he discovered there were training opportunities in Dallas to learn how to become a home inspector in the aftermath of disasters.
Henderson has employment background in environmental remediation and air quality sampling relating to residential homes that he felt matched what contractor firms working with FEMA were looking for.
At the time, “they were mostly looking for people to go to Florida,” he said. “Hopefully, I can help people out here in central Florida and make some money while I’m doing it.”
Henderson’s training occurred in Dallas and Miami.
Independent contract inspectors “are able to complete inspections within 24 hours of being deployed,” according to the website of WSP USA Inspection Services, a government contractor working with FEMA based in Westchester, VA. “Inspectors use handheld computers loaded with government-provided software to capture damages to property. The data generates a report that allows FEMA to make an award determination, often within hours of the completed application.”
The website details that contractors respond to disasters such as chemical spills, dam failures, earthquakes, wildfires, landslides, nuclear power plant failures, civil unrest, tornados, winter storms and hurricanes.
As of November 20, active FEMA locations where contract inspectors are working due to hurricane- and flooding-related emergencies are the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Georgia, Texas and Florida, according to the contractor’s website.
Anyone who is a disaster survivor who wishes find out more about the FEMA claims process should visit fema.gov.