Friday, May 13, 2011 | 10:05 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- An important step on the road to recovery is debris removal. If you were affected by the April tornadoes, here is some information that may help make it easier.
The first thing you should do is call your insurance agent to see if debris removal is covered.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency does not reimburse private property owners for the cost of removing debris from their property; however, your local or state government may pick up and dispose of disaster-related debris placed at the public right-of-way.
Call your local emergency management agency to find out if this is the case in your area. For a list of local emergency management offices, visit www.ema.alabama.gov.
You should separate debris into several categories and place it at the curb:
Certain types of debris may be hazardous, and should not be handled by private property owners. When in doubt, follow the direction of your local emergency manager.
Private property owners should be wary of any debris removal contractor who approaches you claiming a tie to federal or state agencies. Neither the Alabama Emergency Management Agency nor FEMA qualifies, certifies or approves individual contractors for debris removal.
Call 2-1-1 if you need help from nonprofit organizations removing debris from your property.
You may be able to get loan assistance for debris removal through the low-interest disaster loan program from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA phone number is 800-659-2955.
Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has programs for removing debris from agricultural land and nonindustrial forests. The fastest way to apply for these programs is to call your local Farm Service Agency office. Call the state FSA office at 334-279-3500.