Fema Relief Assistance
The affected parishes now include Allen, Ascension, Avoyelles, Cameron, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington, and West Feliciana.
Residents in those 12 parishes can now apply for several grants and loans to help them get back on their feet, even as the flood's reach continues to grow.
Some benefits are fully paid for by Washington; others require a 25 percent local match. Gov. John Bel Edwards has encouraged people in other parishes to apply in case the disaster area is expanded again. The congressional delegation has been seeking to include 21 parishes in total..
Here's what federal money can pay for:
Rent: FEMA can cover rent payments for people with destroyed houses. The program pays for one month's living for renters and up to three months for homeowners. Extensions are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Repairs: FEMA can cover the cost of house repairs and the replacement of essential household items that aren't covered by conventional insurance.
Medical and transportation: Victims can apply for help to cover the costs of lost personal property and to meet medical or transportation needs that weren't covered by conventional insurance. The feds cover only 75 percent of these expenses, however.
Unemployment: Victims who lost their jobs to the flood and aren't self-employed can get up to 26 weeks of unemployment payments. Self-employed people may qualify for state benefits.
Recovery loans: The Small Business Administration can grant low-interest loans for repairs as well: up to $200,000 for fixes to primary residences and $40,000 for lost personal property. Businesses can apply for loans up to $2 million. These are meant to bridge the gap between where convention insurance runs out and what it takes to make victims whole again.
Farms: Farmers, ranchers, and farm-raised seafood producers can take out loans up to $500,000 through the Department of Agriculture to rebuild their businesses.
Hazard mitigation: The feds may also help pay for projects and efforts that minimize future damage during disasters. These programs almost always include costs shared by the state and local governments.
Victims can apply at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1.800.621.FEMA. Phone lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week for the time being.
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