In A Flash

Federal disaster declared for mid-May storms in Louisiana

By: - June 2, 2021 6:07 pm
President declares major disaster for mid-May storms in Louisiana

President Joe Biden meets with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials while touring the National Response Coordination Center on May 24, 2021. (Image courtesy of FEMA)

President Joe Biden on Wednesday declared a major disaster and ordered federal assistance for the areas of Louisiana affected by the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding in mid-May that damaged thousands of homes and left five people dead.

Biden’s action, at the request of Gov. John Bel Edwards, makes federal disaster funding available to residents in the parishes of Ascension, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, and Lafayette affected by the storms from May 17 to May 21, according to a White House press release.

Individual Assistance includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments, according to the press release.

FEMA appointed John E. Long as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

So far, more than 2,900 homes have reported damage from the severe weather, including six that were reported as destroyed, 737 suffering major damage and 1,209 homes having minor damage, according to a press release from the governor. Louisiana continues to collect reports from the public via a self-reporting process at damage.la.gov. Everyone with weather-related damages is encouraged to take the survey.

Residents and business owners who suffered losses in the designated parishes can begin applying for disaster assistance by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the following 22 years since then, he has worked as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. Much of his work has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and watchdog coverage of municipal and state government. He has received several honors and recognitions, including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus, a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, and an adjunct English teacher at Baton Rouge Community College. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his teenage son and his wife, who is also a journalist.

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