As Nebraskans work to recover from last month’s flooding, they should be on alert for potential scams.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency want to spread the word about these fraudulent activities:
Fraudulent phone calls or home visits: People may falsely claim to be from FEMA or another government agency.
• Never give out Social Security numbers or banking information to contractors. People will be asked to provide their Social Security number and banking information only when registering for FEMA assistance. But FEMA inspectors will never ask for banking or other personal information.
• Ask to see the inspector’s identification badge. A FEMA or U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) shirt or jacket is not proof of affiliation with the government.
Fake offers of federal aid
A phone or in-person solicitor may promise to speed up the insurance, disaster assistance or building-permit process for a fee. Other scam artists promise a disaster grant and ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full.
• Federal workers do not solicit or accept money.
• FEMA and SBA staffers will never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or for helping people fill out applications.
Fraudulent building contractors
Disasters can attract fraudulent contractors who offer to begin work immediately and request a cash advance payment. When hiring a contractor:
• Use only licensed local contractors with reliable references.
• Get written estimates from at least three contractors that include the cost of labor and materials.
• Insist that contractors carry general liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage.
People who suspect they may be victims of fraud can use the website protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov/file-consumer-complaint, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or contact their local police department.
Ernst to chair field hearing in Glenwood, Iowa, over Corps’ management of Missouri River
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a field hearing in Glenwood, Iowa, next week to examine the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ management of the Missouri River.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is a member of the committee and will chair the hearing.
“As Iowans continue to recover from the devastating floods, we need answers to the critical question of how best to manage our rivers and water infrastructure,” Ernst said in a press release. “This hearing will bring together officials from the Army Corps and local leaders and stakeholders to examine what happened over the last few weeks and discuss how we can prevent this kind of destruction from happening again.”
This year’s historic flooding has brought fresh scrutiny to how the Corps manages the river and renewed calls from some on Capitol Hill for legislative action to place more emphasis on flood prevention.
The hearing will start at 8:30 a.m. April 17 at Kaufman Hall, 24116 Marian Ave. Corps officials will testify along with local leaders and advocates.
Malvern, Iowa, issues bottled water advisory due to nitrates and failed well
A bottled water advisory has been issued for Malvern, Iowa, after one of its wells failed. The remaining well has a high nitrate level, which can be harmful to infants.
Water can be safely used for all household tasks except drinking and cooking.
Boiling intensifies nitrates, so is not a solution for drinking water. Contact 712-624-8282 for more information.
Low-income Nebraskans can get help replacing damaged furnaces, air conditioners
Nebraska homeowners who earn less than 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines may be eligible for up to $5,000 in grants to replace flood-damaged furnaces and air conditioners.
For a single-person household, the income limit is $24,980. For a two-person household, it’s $33,820, and for a family of five, it’s $60,340. Those who receive Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or anyone who has received Low Income Energy Assistance Payments are automatically eligible.
For more information on income limits, see: http://www.neo.ne.gov/wx/wxindex.htm#income
To apply, talk with your local agency that coordinates these grants, or visit: http://www.neo.ne.gov/loan/floodemergency.html
Or contact Tom Tabor at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 402-471-3682.
Low-interest loans available to nonprofits
Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to certain private nonprofit organizations in Nebraska following President Donald Trump’s federal disaster declaration for public assistance.
Private nonprofits that provide essential services of a governmental nature are eligible for assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Low-interest federal disaster loans are available in Adams, Antelope, Blaine, Boone, Box Butte, Boyd, Buffalo, Burt, Butler, Cass, Cedar, Colfax, Cuming, Custer, Dakota, Dixon, Dodge, Douglas, Fillmore, Frontier, Furnas, Gage, Garfield, Gosper, Greeley, Hall, Holt, Howard, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lancaster, Logan, Loup, Madison, Morrill, Nance, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Pierce, Platte, Richardson, Saline, Sarpy, Sherman, Valley, Washington, Wayne and Wheeler Counties.
Private nonprofit organizations should contact Jodie Fawl of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency at (407) 471-7428 or by email at Jodie.Fawl@nebraska.gov. Go to https://nema.nebraska.gov/ to obtain information about applicant briefings.
JPMorgan Chase makes donation to Farm Bureau relief fund
JPMorgan Chase has announced its donation of $150,000 to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, which has established a disaster relief fund to provide emergency aid.
“We will continue to support our employees, customers and impacted communities in the coming weeks,” the company said in a press release.
Hope Center holds worship service for flood victims
The Hope Center For Kids, 2200 N. 20th St., is holding a community worship and prayer night from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the center.
Prayers will be offered for those affected by flooding, and first responders will be thanked for their service.
Several local churches and resource tables will be available including: the Omaha and Bellevue Fire and Police Department, Heartland Hope Mission, Habitat For Humanity, Omaha Rapid Response, and Sleep In Heavenly Peace.
For more information, call 402-201-9754.