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Getting Financial Assistance after the Flood

The extent of damages created by Louisiana's August 2016 flood event boggles the mind. Five days into the event as flood waters were still making their way south, an estimated 40,000 homes and businesses were already flooded and more than 8,000 people were in shelters because they had nowhere else to go.

The financial losses that these affected businesses and individuals experience will be huge. While some who sustained damages had flood insurance, many did not because some of the areas had not flooded before. But because many of the flood-affected parishes are now federally designated disaster areas, other financial assistance may be available to those without flood insurance coverage.

As of August 16, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared 20 parishes federal disaster areas: 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.

According to FEMA, the declaration means affected individuals in those 20 parishes may be able to receive:

· Rent for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable;

· Grants for repairing and replacing essential items not covered by insurance;

· Grants to replace personal property and help meet other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other programs;

· Unemployment payments for up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and do not qualify for state benefits;

· Low-interest loans for residential losses not fully covered by insurance. Similar loans are available for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance;

· Loans for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations that need funds for working capital to recover;

· Loans for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses; and

· Such other relief programs as crisis counseling; income tax preparation assistance for filing for losses; and advisory assistance for filing for legal, veterans' benefits and Social Security matters.

FEMA never charges for the services it provides; do not agree to deal with someone who wants to charge you.

To apply for FEMA aid, you will need to have a pen and paper ready and the following information: Social Security number, a description of any property insurance, a general description of your damages, your total annual household income before taxes at the time of the disaster, the address of property where the damage happened, and the address and phone number where you can be reached now. For direct deposit of payments, you will also need to provide bank name, type of account, routing number and account number.

You can begin applying by registering at or calling 1-800-621-3362. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, call 1-800-462-7585. For 711 or VRS, call 1-800-621-3362.

Gov. John Bel Edwards advised anyone impacted by this flooding to register with FEMA, even if he or she does not live in one of the designated parishes. If the individual's parish is later declared a disaster area, FEMA will then process that claim.

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