Officials urge homeowners to document property for hurricane season

If there TMs one thing Cameron County leaders learned during Hurricane Dolly, it's that Federal Emergency Management Agency will not reimburse for damages without the proper documentation in place.

Cameron County Administrator Pete Sepulveda said the county is still awaiting for about $2 million from FEMA and that TMs why he recommends home owners throughout the Rio Grande Valley start documenting their property now.

"I think the more documentation we provide the easier we make it for them," Sepulveda said.

Dolly was unforgiving and caused about $11 million in damages for the county, Sepulveda said, and that's not considering the damages it did to homes.

The county documented some of the worst damages to homes and Sepulveda said he understands why people would jump at rebuilding their homes after a hurricane. However, home owners need to do so wisely, Sepulveda said.

"Learn what FEMA requires - the type of documentation, the type of pictures - a lot of times we try to jump and try to fix the damage, Sepulveda said. And once you do that, it's very difficult to prove to FEMA if you've already done improvements the damage you had at your home."

Sepulveda said good ways to document now, are jotting down lists and taking video and pictures of your belongings and your home.

He said although FEMA reimbursement is never 100 percent guaranteed, having the documentation necessary could end up making the difference in the amount of money you get back from the government.

"Unfortunately that's the process that you have to follow, Sepulveda said. But at the end of the day, it's the right and proper documentation that you have to follow from FEMA.

Sepulveda said documenting the before a big storm can be tedious, but will make a difference. He said home owners should go as far as saving receipts to protect their precious belongings.