LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- More Rita evacuees are eligible for aid after three more parishes were designated for individual assistance according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Individual assistance for Evangeline, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes has been made available to help homeowners, renters and business owners recover from the effects of Hurricane Rita.
The number of parishes eligible for individual assistance in the wake of Rita stands at 21. Acadia, Allen, Ascension, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron , Iberia , Jefferson Davis, Lafayette , Lafourche, Sabine, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Vermilion, Vernon and West Baton Rouge parishes had been designated earlier.
Federal, state and local officials announced that the parishes were added after further federal/state damage assessments. Damage assessments are ongoing and more parishes may be designated for additional assistance at a later date.
Individual Assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses not met by insurance or other aid programs. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may be available to help cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Affected residents and business owners in the designated parishes can begin the disaster application process by calling the toll-free registration number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People with a speech or hearing impairment can call a special TTY number at 1-800-462-7585 . Applicants may also register online at www.fema.gov .
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.