The state of Louisiana continues to deal with a significant level of flooding and one of the worst natural disasters in recent years. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Castro and Administrator Contreras-Sweet of the Small Business Administration visited Louisiana today to meet with elected officials, response officials, and survivors to continue to support Governor Edwards’ priorities on housing and businesses.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson traveled to Louisiana last week to assess damages with Governor Edwards, federal and state responders, and the National Guard, meet with survivors in shelters, and receive an update on the response to ongoing flooding in the state. During the press conference with Governor Edwards, Secretary Johnson reiterated the President’s message that the federal government will continue to do everything we can to help the survivors and get people back into homes.
So here's what you should know about the federal response in Louisiana and the resources that you or anyone you know who is impacted by flooding can use:
President Obama has declared 20 parishes for a major disaster for severe storms and flooding, a declaration that makes federal funding available to affected people in Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington and West Feliciana. In addition to the 20 parishes, FEMA is conducting a joint federal and state damage assessment in Assumption and St. Charles.
More than 27,800 NFIP policyholders submitted claims for flood loss, and more than 122,000 individuals and households registered for assistance. FEMA approved more than $205 million in financial support to flood survivors in Louisiana. This total includes more than:
Here's how FEMA is leading the coordination of federal assistance on the ground in Louisiana:
The state of Louisiana, with funding support from FEMA, is launching the Shelter at Home program. This allows residents who qualify to safely live in their own homes as temporary shelters while they plan and carry out permanent repairs. Detailed information, guidelines, and online pre-registration for the Shelter at Home program will be available on Monday, Aug. 29, at www.ShelteratHome.Louisiana.gov
In addition to the state’s Shelter at Home program, the Multi Family Lease and Repair Program may provide funds to make rental units livable again in order to lease them to provide temporary housing to eligible disaster survivors. Interested property owners can call 225-382-1464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
FEMA activated its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program to make participating hotels or motels available for eligible disaster survivors who are currently residing in a personal vehicle, hotel or motel, shelter, or place of employment. There are more than 1,120 households checked into hotels and motels under the program.
FEMA completed more than 27,900 home inspections. Additionally, FEMA is also using Geographic Information System (GIS) housing data to determine inaccessibility based on the location of an applicant’s address.
The National Business Emergency Operations Center is working in coordination with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center and nearly 60 national companies engaged in assisting survivors in the Louisiana flooding with donations of time, money, services, and goods to relief organizations. These companies are also deploying teams to help efforts on the ground, waiving fees, reducing costs for clean-up supplies, and many other forms of help.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has six business recovery centers open, one in Livingston Parish, one in Tangipahoa Parish, one in Ascension Parish, two in East Baton Rouge Parish and one in Lafayette Parish. SBA is providing low-interest loans to Louisiana survivors and businesses to assist with uninsured and underinsured flood-related losses. The SBA received 2,841 applications and approved $14 million in disaster loans.
Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) will continue to open in locations identified by the state to provide information to survivors. Thirteen Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are open in Ascension, Baton Rouge, Iberia, St. Helena, St. Martin, Tangipahoa, and West Feliciana parishes where survivors can apply for assistance and meet face-to-face with recovery specialists.
Disaster survivors do not need to go to a DRC in order to receive disaster assistance. To find the nearest Disaster Recovery Center, visit www.fema.gov/DRC, use the FEMA Mobile Application or text DRC and your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA).
If you are a resident or business owner who has sustained losses in the designated parishes, you can apply for assistance from FEMA by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The numbers are toll-free, and will operate from 7am to 10pm (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
First and foremost, you should return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
If you can safely return to your home, and have filed an insurance claim or applied for FEMA assistance:
An important note: When cleaning up your home, assume everything touched by flood water is contaminated and will have to be disinfected. Residents who are able to start cleaning up should do so with care.
If you are a veteran and your home has been impacted by the floods, the VA has provided guidance on how to ensure you receive the assistance you need here.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) has activated its Disaster Distress helpline. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746) to residents in the U.S. and its territories who are experiencing emotional distress.
If you're in impacted parishes, you can also download FEMA's app to your smartphone so you can locate and get directions to open shelters across the state, and receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.
In addition to FEMA, the state of Louisiana has set up a Resources for Flood Victims page at gov.la.gov/laflood.
Apply for FEMA Individual Assistance via phone 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Time seven days a week:
National Flood Insurance Program: Call 1-800-621-3362 Monday to Friday 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. and select Option 2
Pet Rescue/Triage: 225-952-8168
Register for free home cleanup assistance: 1-800-451-1954
To find out if your loved one is in a state-run shelter: 225-219-5452
To find out if your loved one is in a Red Cross shelter: 1-866-438-4636
Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990
All Veterans Benefits Questions: 1-800‐827‐1000
Learn more about what you can do to prepare for, respond to, and address the impacts of flooding in your neighborhood here: Ready.gov
And if you want to do what you can to help the people of Louisiana get back on their feet, you can visit www.VolunteerLouisiana.gov to see how you can contribute to the response and recovery efforts.
Sean Griffin is the Director for Incident Management Integration Policy in the National Security Council.