Having photo documentation of your home on file could come in handy in case of a natural disaster. So would a system to track a contractor you may want to hire for reconstruction after a storm.
Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Zach Hood said a new vendor – one he hadn’t been aware of previously – at the 2019 Preparedness Expo on May 15 is able to provide both services. And, does so at no cost. The expo was at the Orange Beach Events Center.
“There was one [vendor] in particular that I was really amazed with,” Hood said. “You download an app and you can take a picture of your home and in that app it documents the approximate dimensions of your home. Not only on the exterior but in the interior and it stores it in the cloud. If something happens and wipes out your home, then you have documentation for your insurance agents. Your recovery process, I would argue, is probably cut in half because you have that information in one location ready to turn over.”
The same website, buildsos.com, also provides people who need contractors for new construction or rebuilding with a list of companies or subcontractors screened through the website.
“Getting a contractor is another side and you don’t know who to trust,” Hood said. “They have a vetting process that works with the city or the county to identify if your contractor is permitted, licensed and insured.”
On the site, you can pick the region of the country you are in and fill out a form detailing your needs.
“We have created a membership of pre-vetted builders who enter our network under the highest level of scrutiny,” according to the website. “We offer third-party quality assurance to stand between the contractor and the homeowner throughout the project.”
Gulf Shores Building Official Brandan Franklin, also the city’s EMA director, said he was amazed at how many people at the expo were new to Baldwin County.
“The number of new residents who came through the event was unbelievable,” Franklin said.
Hood said those are the very people the expo is looking to serve.
“We had individuals that are new to the area and they just didn’t know where to start,” Hood said. “They came to the expo hoping to find that starting point, which is exactly what we wanted. That’s who we wanted to reach.”
Those folks ranged from people from California who relocated to Foley and others with one or more properties in Baldwin County.
“We want to give you steps and we don’t want you to be overwhelmed,” Hood said. “What can you do now is what we wanted to discuss. We talked about emergency supply kits, which are relatively inexpensive with water, nonperishable food and things like that, first aid kits, fire extinguishers. Just immediate things that you may need like flashlight batteries and a weather radio.”
Hood said Alabama EMA Director Brian Hastings attended the expo and held a well-attended private meeting with elected officials from around the county.
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