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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