FEMA, SBA assistance now available for Hurricane Ida victims

Homeowners and renters affected by Hurricane Ida who live in parishes that have been designated for Individual Assistance could be eligible for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

The parishes are Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes.

FEMA urges residents with homeowners’ or renters’ insurance to file a claim as soon as possible. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance, but if you are uninsured or underinsured, you may be eligible for federal assistance, the agency says.

FEMA recommends applying at disasterassistance.gov/. But if it is not possible to apply online, you can call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. any day of the week. Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that service, the agency says.

You should have the following information readily available when you apply: 

• A current phone number where you can be contacted;
• Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying;
• Your Social Security number, if available;
• A general list of damage and losses;
• If insured, the policy number or the agent and/or the company name.

FEMA recommends beginning property cleanup and repairs as soon as it is safe to do so to prevent further damage. Take photos to document damage and keep receipts from all related purchases.

Disaster assistance may include financial help for temporary lodging and home repairs along with other programs to assist families recover from the effects of the event.

The SBA has low-interest disaster loans available for homeowners, renters, businesses of any size and most nonprofits. As with FEMA, SBA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. Survivors should contact FEMA first. 

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other assets. Additional funds are available to help businesses and homeowners with the cost of improvements to prevent or minimize future damage.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofit organizations, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. 

Interest rates can be as low as 2.855% for businesses, 2% for private nonprofit organizations and 1.563% for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

The SBA has launched a virtual recovery center for businesses, homeowners and renters. Representatives will be on hand to answer questions and help with applications any day of the week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time at 800-659-2955; you can also email FOCWAssistance@sba.gov. 

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339.