NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Local, state and federal officials strongly urge Louisiana homeowners, renters and business owners who suffered damages as a result of the severe storms and tornadoes that occurred Feb. 12 and 13 to register with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regardless of registering or receiving assistance from a previous disaster.
"In the chaos that accompanies a disaster, rumors and misunderstandings about assistance may cause some storm-struck residents to disqualify themselves from much-needed help,"said Neal Fudge, deputy state coordinating officer for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP).
Recovery officials voiced concern that unreliable word-of-mouth information in distressed neighborhoods and communities may deprive eligible individuals and households of much needed assistance from the State and FEMA.
"The last thing you need in a disaster is misinformation,"said Lee Champagne, federal coordinating officer. "And the best way to avoid that problem is to call and ask for yourself what kind of disaster assistance is available to you."
Homeowners, renters and business owners who were impacted by the Feb. 12 and 13 storms are strongly urged to register for assistance. Many of those affected by these storms have also registered with FEMA for assistance after Hurricane Katrina. These residents will need to contact FEMA to submit a new application for the new damages caused by these recent storms. Applicants may now be eligible for assistance regardless of previous applications.
Homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained losses in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Martin parishes can apply for assistance by registering online at www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing or speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.
Residents may also visit a local Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) to speak with representatives from the State, FEMA and SBA to discuss the types of assistance available to them. It is urged that residents apply online or by phone before visiting a DRC.
SBA is the federal government's primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or repairing disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.