Operation Blue Roof begins in Pinellas

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pinellas County residents with roof damage due to Hurricane Irma can sign up for Operation Blue Roof, a priority mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) starting Friday, Sept. 15.

The program provides reinforced blue tarps to protect roofs until arrangements can be made for repairs. The blue roof must make the home ready to live in to qualify.

Sign-ups will take place at a “Right of Entry” center, staged at Indian Rocks Baptist Church, 12629 Ulmerton Road, Largo. The center will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week while demand lasts.

To apply, residents should sign up as soon as possible, as the center closes when demand is low. Residents should bring a driver’s license or other proof of residency, and be prepared to answer questions to determine eligibility.

Corps of Engineers representatives will then visit the property to assess the damage, and if the application is approved, the Corps will install the temporary roof.

This is a free service to homeowners. Operation Blue Roof protects property, reduces temporary housing costs, and allows residents to remain in their homes while recovering from the storm.

Vacation rental properties are not eligible. Roofs that are flat or made of metal or clay, slate or asbestos tile do not qualify. All storm debris must be removed.

Residents participating in the program should:

• Beware of solicitations. Blue Roof representatives never solicit participation, nor will they ask for Social Security or bank account numbers.

• Look for identification. Corps employees who do assessments for Operation Blue Roof carry U.S. Government ID cards. If one is not visible, ask for it. Contractors will have a copy of the signed Right of Entry form.

• Secure their pets. Homeowners with pets who have submitted Right of Entry forms should ensure pets are placed inside or properly restrained away from the structure in order for workers to safely access the roof.

• Representatives from Operation Blue Roof may call to clarify information or location, but they will not ask for sensitive information.

• Don’t pay. Operation Blue Roof is free to residents.

If in doubt that a worker is an official government representative, residents should contact local law enforcement or the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.