Washington, D. C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported today that President Bush has authorized the release of federal disaster funds and resources for people victimized by Hurricane Lili's assault on Louisiana this morning.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the President signed the major disaster declaration for the state this evening immediately after receiving the agency's analysis of Gov. Mike Foster's expedited request for federal assistance. The declaration covers damage to private property from torrential rains, storm surge, tornadoes and flooding spawned by Lili, which began affecting the state's coastline on October 1.
"The President's once again has acted swiftly in coming to the aid of people in Louisiana who have suffered two damaging storms within the last week," Allbaugh said. "We have disaster teams and emergency resources already in place and are prepared to provide immediate assistance for critical needs wherever necessary."
In addition to emergency aid, Allbaugh said the declaration makes federal funds available for the long-term recovery of hurricane-stricken residents and business owners in the following 28 parishes: Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Jefferson, Lafayette, LaFourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne and Vermillion.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Additionally, federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal and emergency services related to the hurricane, including requested emergency work undertaken by the federal government.
The parishes designated for this assistance by Allbaugh include Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Jefferson, Lafayette, LaFourche, Livingston, Natchitoches, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Vermillion and West Baton Rouge.
Under the declaration, all of the state's parishes are eligible to apply for federal funding on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Allbaugh indicated that more parishes and additional forms of assistance for state and local government agencies may be designated later as conditions allow damage to be assessed throughout the stricken area. He named Carlos Mitchell of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Mitchell said that those who sustained losses in the parishes designated for aid to affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process immediately by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.