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What You Need To Know To Get Help From FEMA After Hurricane Ida

14_damaged buildings_w airline hwy_la place louisiana_31aug2021_wv2.jpg
Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies
An aerial photo of damaged buildings along Airline Highway in LaPlace, Louisiana. Aug 31, 2021.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency makes a point of saying its job isn’t get people back to where they were pre-calamity, but instead to get survivors back on their feet.

It also rarely interacts with people on the street, instead funneling federal resources down into local and state responders.

But FEMA does offer some direct assistance to people in need. Here are the programs the agency offers for Hurricane Ida survivors in Louisiana and how to use them.

Cash And Rental Assistance

By Friday, FEMA had given out $93.8 million to 93,626 people in Louisiana, both in $500 payments and in rental assistance for temporary housing.

Louisiana residents affected by Ida can go to to fill out an application. They can also complete an application by calling 1-800-621-3362 or using the FEMA mobile app. In New Orleans, FEMA representatives are also set up at cooling stations to help residents fill out applications.

But many people get denied for a simple reason — insurance. If your insurance already covers damage from the storm, FEMA will not give you money for those expenses. Louisiana residents should first contact their insurance company if they have one. However, FEMA could pay for what an insurance company refuses to cover.

If FEMA denies an application or it is incomplete, residents have 60 days to either appeal or finish applying. Damages that exceed $500 could still be covered after FEMA sends a home inspector.

For temporary housing, FEMA will provide direct deposit payments based on family size and the fair market rental rates as determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Transitional Sheltering

On Thursday FEMA began offering another housing program — Transitional Sheltering Assistance. FEMA will cover the cost of staying in a hotel in an eligible hotel found on this website (or the FEMA helpline, 800-621-3362). The hotel must also be located in a nearby state, including:

  • Louisiana
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

Anyone with a damaged dwelling can take advantage of the program so long as they live in one of the following Louisiana parishes:

  • 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
  • West Feliciana

Blue Roof

Louisiana residents can also apply to have their roofs temporarily repaired with tarps installed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for free. Applications are available at or by calling 888-766-3258. The home must be considered inhabitable once the roof is installed.

The service is available for the following counties:

  • Ascension
  • Jefferson
  • Lafourche
  • Livingston
  • Orleans
  • Plaquemines
  • St. Bernard
  • St. Charles
  • St. James
  • St. John the Baptist
  • St. Tammany
  • Tangipahoa
  • Terrebonne

Avoiding FEMA Scams And Help For Businesses

After a storm, fraudsters will often impersonate FEMA to scam victims. To avoid being tricked, Here are a few things that are good to know to avoid fraud, according to the agency:

  • FEMA does not ask for social security information via text or email.
  • Don’t offer financial information over the phone.
  • When dealing with a contractor, make sure they are licensed and take pictures of their license plate and identification if possible. 
  • Get any agreements with a contractor in writing. 
  • Be wary of solicitors. 
  • FEMA does not certify contractors.

Businesses hoping for financial assistance should look to the Small Business Association rather than FEMA, which mostly deals with aiding individuals.

Stephan Bisaha is the wealth and poverty reporter for the Gulf States Newsroom, a regional collaboration between NPR and member stations in Alabama (WBHM), Mississippi (MPB) and Louisiana (WWNO and WRKF). He reports on the systemic drivers of poverty in the region and economic development.

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