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The Damage Assessment Process

The Damage Assessment Process

When a disaster of any magnitude has caused individual and/or public property damage, the damage reporting process should be initiated immediately under the direction of the municipal emergency management coordinator.  The EMC may be occupied in the response to the emergency, therefore another individual should be predesignated and trained to coordinate the initial damage reporting and damage assessment process.  Personnel such as tax assessors, building inspectors, code enforcement officers, real estate appraisers, insurance adjusters, and utility personnel have the expertise to become an integral part of your community's damage assessment team.

The process of initial damage reporting begins by evaluating the municipality via vehicle and documenting the number of damages found and categorizing them according to the property type and severity of the damage sustained.  It is also recommended that the person doing the initial damage report, document on a municipal map, the locations of the damaged areas.  Photographs should be taken and kept on file of those properties or areas that are severely damage.  Once the information is compiled, the initial damage report is sent to the County who in turn submits it to PEMA for their records.  The entire process should take no more than two business days, so that the information can be compiled by PEMA in a timely manner.

The need for an initial damage report is not only to identify if a disaster declaration is needed, but also to identify any unmet needs, the impact the disaster had on the community, and to identify existing resources that need to be allocated or supplemented.

When a disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, or major fire occurs in a municipality, the incident is handled by the local emergency response agencies.  If the disaster situation is beyond the capabilities of the municipality, this creates certain unmet needs, which should be brought to the attention of the County EMC.  Supplemental assistance from the county may provide sufficient aid to return the community to normalcy.  The initial damage reporting process will also identify the impact the disaster had on the community.  For instance, by evaluating the community, the EMS will be able to determine how many private properties, roads, bridges, utilities, etc. were impacted by the disaster and can then assign resources which need to be allocated to assist in the recovery process for those particular properties. 

Crisis Track - Damage Assessment Tool


Damage Assessment Forms and Documents