The deadline to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is June 13, but officials say the Disaster Recovery Center will be open as long as needed.
Florence Vega, individual assistance crew lead, says FEMA is in the process of handling mainly appeals at this time.
“The majority of the ones that are in the system already received rental assistance or home repair assistance,” she said. “We’re still getting new applications. The deadline to apply is June 13, and people are still applying. There are still needs in Webster Parish.”
It is important to note, she said, that both renters and the owner have the right to appeal their case. For instance, if the inspector does not see much damage but it rains again and the roof leaks, then they can appeal their case.
“You have the right to appeal with a letter asking for additional assistance, but you have to detail the money you are asking for and get estimates,” she said. “The approval department will compare your letter with the inspectors report, and we consider additional payments for your repairs.”
Renters can appeal for their personal property, she added.
Right now, FEMA officials are continuing to collect documentation on appeals cases, and Vega says having all documentation, including receipts, is vital to their case.
The Small Business Association and Hazard Mitigation agencies are also on hand to help flood victims, she said. The difference between the SBA and FEMA is that FEMA is a grant and SBA is a loan.
“Sometimes the two combined together gets the person back into their homes,” she said. “A person could be eligible for the maximum amount under FEMA, but they may be eligible for SBA. If they are eligible for SBA, it is in their best interest to fill out that form. If they are eligible together, they can get back into their home. With SBA, you pay it back, but you could upgrade your home, whatever you need to do, but with FEMA, you can start your repairs.”
She says they still have agents in the field assessing property damage and people can still apply over the phone or online.
Vega re-emphasized the June 13 deadline, saying that is for new applications only. For those who have already applied, they are in the system and can appeal their claim if need be.
For those who have flood insurance, Vega says it is important that they file with their insurance first and then file their claims with FEMA.
Jose Monge, manager of the DRC in Minden, says the center is only one of eight that are still open in the area. DRC in Bossier Parish is expected to close Tuesday, leaving the one in Minden and Caddo Parish the only two open in the northwest Louisiana region.
To register for federal assistance via phone or website, the phone number is 1-800-621-3362 or online at www.disasterassistance.gov.