September is National Preparedness Month, and FEMA is encouraging individuals, organizations, and communities to promote emergency preparedness by taking the Pledge to Prepare for natural disasters. Now is the perfect time for those living in coastal states, as well as inland areas to consider the hazards that hurricanes and tropical storms bring, making areas vulnerable to risks such as flooding, high winds, tornadoes and storm surge.
According to the National Hurricane Center, August through October are the peak months for the Atlantic hurricane season, which continues until November 30. It is important to take steps now to be prepared to ensure that your family and property are safe. Visit Ready.gov or Listo.gov for more information. As of today, there are two hurricanes located in the central Atlantic Ocean, and although these storms are not forecast to pose any threat to the United States mainland or its territories, there is a probability additional storms may form later during the remainder of hurricane season. Earlier this hurricane season, Tropical Storm Debby affected parts of Florida, and most recently Hurricane Isaac impacted parts of the Gulf Coast. FEMA continues to work with federal, state, local and tribal officials to coordinate the ongoing response and recovery efforts in affected states.
In Louisiana and Mississippi, more than 150,000 Louisiana and Mississippi residents have applied for federal assistance, and more than $28 million has been approved for housing assistance and other needs. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and households recover from the effects of the disaster. More than 1,900 housing inspectors are visiting neighborhoods to assess damages. More than 40,000 inspections have been completed. Disaster survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi in need of assistance should visit www.disasterassistance.gov for more information on the assistance available in their area. Survivors without access to the internet can call 1-800-621-3362, and survivors who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) should call 1-800-621-3362.
Disaster recovery centers are open in many disaster affected areas in Louisiana and Mississippi. These centers are the place for disaster survivors to meet one-on-one with officials from voluntary and non-profit agencies, local communities, and state and federal agencies such as FEMA and the Small Business Administration to learn more about the various types of assistance available to disaster survivors. More information about disaster recovery centers is available at www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by mobile phone at m.fema.gov.
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) members including voluntary, non-profit and faith-based organizations also are working closely with the affected states and communities to assist with debris removal and supporting with temporary roofing for disaster survivors.
Joint federal, state and local disaster assessments continue in Louisiana and Mississippi. These assessments identify the damages in impacted counties to help the governor determine if additional federal support will be requested. We encourage you to visit the disaster-specific web pages for Mississippi and Louisiana at fema.gov for more information.
Hurricane Isaac and Tropical Storm Debby serve as important reminders that natural disasters can happen anytime and anywhere. By taking steps now to prepare for emergencies, you can ensure that your family and community are prepared to respond and recover from all types of potential disasters and hazards. We encourage everyone to make the pledge to prepare this month and help themselves, their neighbors and their communities be Ready. You can start by visiting www.Ready.gov/today and download a family emergency plan, emergency kit checklists, and additional information on how to get involved locally. Together, our efforts will build a stronger and more resilient nation.
Recent Updates on the Isaac Recovery:
- Thursday, Sept. 6, FEMA amended the Major Disaster Declaration for Hurricane Isaac for Louisiana, making Individual Assistance available in five additional Louisiana parishes — Assumption, St. Helena, St. James, Terrebonne and Washington. Individuals in areas in Louisiana and Mississippi that have been designated for individual assistance can apply for assistance by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov on a web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov. Disaster survivors who not have access to the Internet can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Survivors who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY may call 1-800-462-7585. Individuals who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing, home repairs, rental assistance, uninsured property losses, and other programs that help individuals and households recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal disaster assistance will not duplicate insurance benefits, but may provide for uncovered losses.
- FEMA, in coordination with the state of Louisiana launched the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program for Hurricane Isaac evacuees. This program allows eligible evacuees to stay in hotels or motels if their homes are inaccessible or unlivable due to the disaster. The initiative is designed to provide temporary lodging for eligible disaster survivors who have a continuing need for shelter after the congregate shelters have closed. The state has prioritized those with the most critical needs for emergency lodging in hotels and motels, especially the elderly and those with illnesses exacerbated by the heat who are staying in shelters. Registering with FEMA is the first step to potential federal disaster assistance, including the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program.
- FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRCs) have opened in disaster affected areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. At these centers, disaster survivors can meet one-on-one with officials from voluntary and non-profit agencies, local communities, the state, and federal agencies such as FEMA and the Small Business Administration to learn more about the various types of assistance available to disaster survivors. To find a disaster recovery center location, go to www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by mobile phone at m.fema.gov.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with the Department of Energy and as per the requests of the states affected by Hurricane Isaac has exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act to temporarily waive certain federal clean gasoline requirements for gasoline sold and distributed in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina. The disruption and delays in production and delivery of gasoline resulted from effects of Hurricane Isaac. The federal waiver will help ensure an adequate supply of gasoline in the impacted states until normal supply to the region can be restored.
- U.S. Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues to work with state and federal partners to ensure a coordinated federal response to Isaac. USACE reported the status at the Pearl River Lock is stable. At the time of potential failure and threat of flooding, the lock was under caretaker status and not actively operated or maintained by the federal government. USACE is operating the Greater New Orleans District Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS), and all major structures are now open.
- U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration announced $3.5 million in quick Release Emergency Relief Funds for Hurricane Isaac Damage in Louisiana. The announcement builds up on the major disaster declaration approved by President Barack Obama. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will be used to pay for debris removal and the repair of traffic signals and signs, highway shoulders and movable bridges.
- U.S. Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service provided tax relief to individuals and business affected by Hurricane Isaac. Affected tax payers in Louisiana (Ascension, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John The Baptist, St. Tammany parishes and Mississippi (Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Pearl counties) will receive tax relief that postpones tax filling and payment deadlines that occurred on or after August 26, 2012. As a result, affected individuals and business will have until January 11, 2012 to file returns and pay any taxes due. The tax relief includes corporations and business that received similar extension until October 15, 2012. More details are available on www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Relief-in-Disaster-Situations.
- Tuesday, Sept. 4, FEMA granted the state of Louisiana’s request to designate St. Charles Parish for Individual Assistance, opening the way for state and federal assistance to eligible homeowners, renters and business owners affected by Hurricane Isaac.