Baton Rouge: Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Office of Community Development is urging all homeowners affected by the March and August 2016 floods to take a brief survey that will be available starting on Monday, April 10. The survey will be posted on the restore.la.gov website on that date and is the first step toward applying for recovery assistance. Homeowners who don’t have access to the internet can also have their surveys filled in over the telephone.
The survey will be available for a period of time – it does not have to be completed on the opening date.
All flood-impacted residents are asked to sign up for email updates through the Restore Louisiana website, restore.la.gov. This is the fastest way to find out information as the process opens.
On Friday, March 31, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave final approval on the state’s action plan for distributing a $1.2 billion congressional appropriation for residents impacted by both of last year’s floods. HUD also sent the grant agreement for $1.6 billion in total recovery funding.
This funding will allow the state to help flood-impacted homeowners who suffered major damage and did not have flood insurance. The first phase of this assistance will begin by helping low-to-moderate income families who are elderly or have a member living with disabilities, and who suffered major damage and did not have flood insurance.
Later phases of assistance will benefit broader groups of families.
In all cases, the first step in applying for assistance is completing the brief survey either online or over the phone. The survey will take about 15 minutes and will not require documentation. Based on their answers, potentially eligible homeowners will be invited to apply for assistance. At that point, the state will collect documentation to verify survey answers. Survey answers do not determine final eligibility for the assistance program.
The survey is important for several reasons. When homeowners make the actual application for government assistance, they become subject to federal rules that could require extra steps and more time to complete. The survey portion minimizes the number of homeowners affected by those rules, and it keeps participants moving as quickly as possible in the rebuilding assistance process.
It also gives the state more information about each homeowner’s current recovery needs, so the program can place homeowners into one of several phases that will be funded over time. Phased funding ensures that assistance is distributed in an efficient, timely manner.
In the meantime, the state asks flood-impacted families to keep a few things in mind. First, federal rules require that assistance provided through the program must be used for repairing flood-damaged homes. In some cases, homeowners may be reimbursed for work already performed. In others, the assistance program will either pay homeowners and their home-building contractors for repair work, or homeowners may choose to have the program complete repairs on their behalf, depending on which program options are selected.
Second, all flood-impacted families are strongly urged to complete the survey even if they don’t think they’ll qualify for the initial round of assistance. The survey serves as the initial step for all homeowner assistance. Moreover, as the state continues appealing for more federal funding, the survey will help demonstrate flood-impacted families’ unmet needs.
In the meantime, please check the Recovery Resources page on the task force website for many helpful links, especially the Disaster Case Management Program. Offered through the Louisiana Department of Health, this is a free service that helps families find resources.