Marty Bahamonde, Director of Disaster Operations for FEMA's Office of External Affairs , joined News 15 to discuss recovery efforts after Hurricane Laura.
Applying for Federal Disaster Assistance Usually Takes Two Steps
It usually takes two steps for survivors of Hurricane Laura to access the greatest possible amount of federal help.
Step one: Use one of several ways to apply for FEMA assistance.
Go online to DisasterAssistance.gov.
Download the FEMA mobile app.
Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are available. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Multilingual operators are available.
Survivors in the following parishes may be eligible for federal help: Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lincoln, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, Union, Vermilion, Vernon and Winn.
FEMA assistance cannot make survivors whole, but it may help move their recovery forward by providing grants for basic repairs to make homes safe, sanitary and functional. It may also help with a temporary place to stay while you build your own recovery plan.
Step two: Apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for a federal low-interest disaster loan. SBA disaster loans are the primary source of federal assistance for repair or replacement costs not covered by insurance or other compensation.
Businesses are also encouraged to apply.
If referred to SBA by FEMA, homeowners and renters are encouraged to apply. If SBA declines the application, homeowners and renters may be eligible for grants from FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program to replace certain household items, repair or replace a damaged vehicle and pay for moving and storage costs.
SBA disaster loans:
Up to $2 million for property damage loan to businesses of any size and private nonprofit organizations
Up to $2 million for working capital loan to small businesses, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations for disaster caused working capital needs even if they had no property damage
$2 million maximum business loan for any combination of property damage and working capital needs
Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence
Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property, including vehicles
SBA has established a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center that is open daily, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT. You can contact an SBA customer service representative via email at FOCWAssistance@sba.gov or by phone at 800-659-2955. SBA will answer specific questions about how a disaster loan may help each survivor recover from the disaster damage and will provide one-on-one assistance in completing applications for these loans.
Apply online at www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
For questions about SBA disaster loans call 800-659-2955 or email the SBA at FOCWAssistance@sba.gov.
To apply by mail completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
These services are only available for the Louisiana disaster declaration as a result of Hurricane Laura that occurred Aug. 22-27, 2020, and not for COVID-19 related assistance.
Two Additional Louisiana Parishes Designated for Individual Assistance
Homeowners and renters in Morehouse and Union parishes may now apply for federal disaster assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses resulting from Hurricane Laura. To be eligible for federal disaster aid, storm damage and losses from the hurricane and flooding must have occurred as a result of Hurricane Laura from Aug. 22 to Aug. 27. Sixteen parishes were previously included in the federal declaration to help homeowners and renters. They are Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, Vermilion, Vernon and Winn parishes.
Survivors should file a claim at the same time as they apply to FEMA. Save yourself time, if you have insurance, you must file a claim.
If you have phone or Internet access, you may register by: Going online at DisasterAssistance.gov Downloading the FEMA app
Calling 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. If you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services, call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone lines operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Do not wait to begin your cleanup and repairs. Take photos of all damage and save all receipts. Remember, FEMA assistance alone cannot make survivors whole. FEMA’s disaster assistance programs are designed to help with grants for basic repairs to make survivors’ homes safe, sanitary and secure and to provide a temporary place to live while survivors develop their recovery plans. FEMA is unable to duplicate insurance payments. However, disaster survivors without insurance or who are underinsured may still receive help after insurance claims have been settled. Low-interest disaster loans of up to $200,000 are available from the U.S. Small Business Administration to homeowners for their primary residence. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Businesses and private nonprofits may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Applicants may apply online at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email email@example.com for more information. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-877-8339. SBA has established a Virtual Business Recovery Center and a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center to provide assistance to business owners and to help homeowners and renters. Email FOCWAssistance@sba.gov or call 800-659-2955. Lines are open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT.
New Process: FEMA Remote Home Inspections after Hurricane Laura
Due to COVID-19 and the need to protect the safety and health of all Americans, FEMA will conduct remote home inspections for Hurricane Laura applicants in Louisiana. Remote inspections provide a new way of evaluating damage – comparable to traditional, in-person inspections – and expedite the delivery of recovery assistance to applicants based on their eligibility.
What to Expect After Applying for FEMA Assistance
A remote inspection will be the primary form of inspection for applicants who are still pending an inspection.
Applicants who self-reported during registration that they received minimal damage and can live in their homes will not automatically be scheduled for a home inspection. Instead, they will receive a letter from FEMA explaining that they may call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 to request an inspection if they find significant disaster-caused damage to their home after they applied. Applicants who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services may call 800-621-3362.
Keep Contact Information Updated so FEMA Can Schedule Inspection
Part of the FEMA disaster assistance registration process includes providing a call back phone number for FEMA to contact the applicant to set up a remote home inspection for damage caused by the disaster and other helpline information.
It is important to call the helpline number and update the contact information if it changes. Applicants may also update contact information online at disasterassistance.gov or by downloading the FEMA app.
Applicants who use a relay service, such as InnoCaption or CapTel, should provide their specific number assigned to that service. It is important that FEMA can contact them. Applicants should be aware phone calls from FEMA may come from an unidentified number.
Remote Inspection Process
Disaster applicants who applied to FEMA and reported that they may not or cannot live at home due to damage will be contacted by FEMA to schedule a remote inspection.
FEMA advises evacuated applicants to return to their property only when local officials say it’s safe to do so. FEMA remains committed to completing home inspections for every applicant whose situation necessitates one.
FEMA inspectors will call applicants by phone. Applicants will answer questions about the type and extent of damage sustained.
The inspector will ask applicants to verify the last four digits of their FEMA registration ID, a 9-digit number given to them after applying. The inspector will complete the verification process by confirming the first 4-digits of the registration ID.
Applicants should let FEMA know if they need reasonable accommodations, including translation and ASL interpreters, to ensure effective communication.
Based on an applicant’s responses and existing eligibility criteria, FEMA may then provide grants for rental assistance, home repairs and replacing certain personal property items.
Home repair grants are provided based on the type of residence and the applicant’s responses during the remote inspection. FEMA assistance is limited to making essential repairs to make certain areas of a home livable. Those areas include the living room, kitchen, bathroom and currently occupied bedrooms.
Remote inspections have no impact on eligibility for the types of Other Needs Assistance available that do not require an inspection. This assistance includes childcare, transportation, medical and dental, funeral expenses, moving and storage and Group Flood Insurance Policy Assistance.
New Drive-thru Disaster Recovery Center Opens in Jefferson Davis Parish with Safety Protocols
BATON ROUGE, La. – A drive-thru Disaster Recovery Center will open in Jefferson Davis Parish on Monday, Sept. 7 to help Hurricane Laura survivors.
Different from the standard in-person facility, the new feature of the centers is an easy and COVID-safe way for Hurricane Laura survivors to have documents scanned into their case file.
The drive-thru is staffed with FEMA personnel who are available to scan documents, assist with registration, and answer questions about disaster assistance programs.
The center operates under strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure visitors are safe. Masks or face coverings are required for entry and service. Survivors remain in their cars. A specialist wearing a face mask will receive documents through the window and return them.
No appointments are necessary. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
The drive-thru center is located at:
Lacassine High School
409 Algonia Ave.
Lacassine, LA 70650
Another drive-thru center is also operating 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. It’s located at:
Calcasieu Parish School Board
3310 Broad St.
Lake Charles, LA 70615
Survivors do not need to visit a drive-thru center to apply or update their application. To ask individual questions or submit information:
Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585.
Download the FEMA app.
Louisiana Disaster Assistance Applicants: Understand FEMA Determination Letters, How to Appeal Them
Baton Rouge, LA - Everybody has a right to appeal. There are common reasons why FEMA may have denied your application. Read your determination letter carefully to understand FEMA’s decision and know exactly what you need to do for your appeal. Often, applicants just need to submit some extra documents for FEMA to process their application.
FEMA can reconsider you in some cases if you:
Submit insurance documents. Provide documents from your insurance company that detail your coverage or settlement is insufficient to make essential home repairs, provide a place to stay, or replace certain contents. FEMA cannot duplicate homeowner or renter insurance benefits.
Prove occupancy. Provide documents that prove the damaged home or rental was your primary residence by supplying a copy of utility bills, driver’s license or lease.
Prove ownership. Provide documents such as mortgage or insurance documents, tax receipts or a deed. If you don’t have a deed handy, contact your local or parish officials about obtaining a copy.
There are many other reasons you may disagree with FEMA’s decision. If you feel the amount or type of assistance is incorrect, submit a signed, written explanation outlining why you believe FEMA’s decision is incorrect and copies of any documents supporting your appeal, including proof of your disaster losses.
Your full name, your FEMA application number and disaster number, your pre-disaster primary residence address and your current phone number and address should be included on all submitted documents. Application and disaster numbers are printed on page 1 of your determination letter, above your name and address.
Instructions to submit your appeal documents:
There are four ways you can submit your letter and documents. Be sure to include the cover letter you received from FEMA when you submit them.
1. Mail documents and your letter within 60 days of receiving your determination letter to the address below.
FEMA National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055
2. Fax them to 800-827-8112.
3. Upload them online at disasterassistance.gov if you have a FEMA online account. To set up a FEMA online account, visit the site and click on “Check Your Application and Log In” and follow the directions.
4. Visit a FEMA drive-thru Disaster Recovery Center. The center operates under strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of all participants. Masks or face coverings are required for entry and service. You will remain in your car. A specialist wearing a face mask will receive your documents through the window and return them to you. Find your closest center by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585, going online to disasterassistance.gov or downloading the FEMA app.
You may see Disaster Survivor Assistance team members visiting door-to-door in your area. Check for official FEMA photo identification. They will be able to answer questions and update your records if you need assistance with documents.
If you have questions about submitting insurance documents, proving occupancy or ownership, or anything else about your determination letter, call the FEMA helpline 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call 800-621-3362.
Toll-free numbers are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Multilingual operators are available.
For the latest information on Hurricane Laura, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4559 or follow the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion6.
Keep in Touch—Update Information with FEMA to Avoid Delays
BATON ROUGE, La.— Louisiana homeowners and renters who registered for FEMA disaster assistance after Hurricane Laura should stay in touch with FEMA to ensure the disaster assistance process stays on track.
Survivors should update contact information as soon as possible because FEMA may need to reach them to perform virtual home inspections or get additional information.
Survivors who registered with FEMA may update contact information the following ways:
Going online at DisasterAssistance.gov
Downloading the FEMA app
Calling 800-621-3362. People who use TTY may call 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, Innocaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that service.
FEMA encourages survivors to request direct deposits of disaster assistance to their financial institution. Survivors should let FEMA know as soon as possible of any changes to their banking information.
It’s important to note that FEMA disaster assistance checks cannot be forwarded. If you cannot access your home address, you can request the postal service to hold your mail.
For the latest information on Hurricane Laura, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4559 or follow the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion6.
Critical Needs Assistance Available to Louisiana Hurricane Laura Survivors
BATON ROUGE , La.– FEMA has authorized Critical Needs Assistance for all designated parishes following Hurricane Laura to help
households with immediate or serious needs who were displaced from their primary dwelling. Critical Needs Assistance are payments to help survivors pay for lifesaving and life - sustaining items. These may include water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items and fuel for transportation. To be
eligible for Critical Needs Assistance a survivor must:
•Register with FEMA online at disasterassistance.gov or by downloading the FEMA app. Survivors may also call the FEMA helpline at 800- 621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362.
•Verify their identity.
•Report at the time of registration that they have critical needs and request financial
assistance for those needs and expenses.
•Have a pre-disaster primary residence located in a county designated for CAN.
•Be displaced from their pre- disaster primary residence as a result of the disaster.
Critical Needs Assistance is currently available in Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis,
Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine Vermilion, Vernon and Winn parishes.
Funds are delivered via direct deposit or paper check payable to the eligible applicant. Critical needs funding may take longer than usual due to the magnitude of Hurricane Laura. Once made, an eligibility determination is final. For the latest information on Hurricane Laura, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4559.
Vermilion Parish has been approved for IA-Individual Assistance. Please report to the ArcGis Survey 123 link and also www.disasterassistance.gov or Fema phone # 1-800-621-3362 The Disaster Number for Laura if they ask is 4559-DR.
If any residents of St. Martin Parish suffered damages to their homes as a result of Hurricane Laura, we are asking that you please report it to the St. Martin Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. We would like to stress the vital importance of reporting any and all damages sustained to homes and businesses. You are not only helping yourself, but also your neighbors to receive assistance from FEMA.
We have been diligently patrolling the Parish and have noticed that some homes did sustain storm related damages, so we are encouraging you; family members, or neighbors to please report damages via the number below.
In order to determine if St. Martin Parish will qualify for Federal Assistance with FEMA, we are asking that any resident or business owner that sustained storm damage, to please contact the St. Martin Parish OHSEP Office at (337) 394-2808 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you call or email, please have the following information available:
1. Name and Address
2. Contact Information (phone and email)
3. Pictures of any and all damages
4. What damage was sustained to the home or business
5. Whether you own or rent the property
6. Whether or not you have homeowners or business insurance coverage
In order to determine if St. Martin Parish qualifies for Federal Assistance with FEMA, we need to report any all damages to determine if we are eligible for assistance through FEMA. Therefore, please call as soon as possible to report your damages. This applies to homes and businesses.
The EOC Call Center will be open from 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. to accept calls from individuals and businesses who suffered damage from the hurricane that occurred in St. Martin Parish.
All businesses and residents are asked to report any Hurricane Laura storm related damages as soon as possible by phone (337)492-5451 or online at https://arcg.is1XjnHW . When reporting any such damages it is important to have the following information available:
-Name and Address
-Contact Information (phone and email)
-Pictures of any and all damages
-What damage was sustained to the home or business
-Whether you own or rent the property
-Whether or not you have homeowners or business insurance coverage
Providing this information to Iberia Parish Government does not constitute an actual claim for FEMA benefits- it only helps the Parish in seeking individual assistance from FEMA as a result of your initial damage reports, additional information for submitting your damages claim to FEMA.