Parish residents must claim damages to get FEMA help

Published 9:40 am Monday, March 14, 2016

On Sunday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced there will be federal aid for seven parishes after last week’s devastating floods.

Washington Parish was not included on the governor’s list, but he said the list will likely expand and include other parishes once damage has been assessed.

Edwards said that once the federal government acknowledges a disaster in an area, residents can receive federal aid to help cover the cost of home repairs.

Bobbi Jo Breland, the emergency management specialist for Washington Parish, said residents can help bring federal aid to Washington Parish by declaring their losses to her office. Citizens should report all damages, even if they have flood insurance.

“We have to get all of our residents who received any damages, no matter how small, to call our offices so we can document it,” she said. “Once we document it, we have to send it up to the state, so they can send it to FEMA.”

Breland said homeowners can call 985-839-0434 to report their damages.

Over the weekend, as floodwaters diminished and people returned homes, Breland said her office was inundated with calls.

“Yetserdy alone we got 275 calls,” she said on Monday. “And its been ringing off the hook this morning.”

So far, Breland estimates that roughly 400 homes were damaged in the parish, and another dozen or so businesses.

“All of those (businesses) along Richmond Street received damage and some on Sullivan Drive have received damages, and we’re adding those to the list of damaged businesses.”

Breland said she couldn’t yet put a dollar amount to the damages sustained in Washington Parish.

But, she said, she expects the number will be high.

“I have had people call who said they’ve lived in their home for 50 years and they never had it flood and now they had water up to their roof,” she said.

Breland said homeowners should call her office whether the damage was minor or severe.

“No matter how much water they’ve received, if they’ve received a little bit of water, that’s damage,” she said. “So any amount, if you’ve received any kid of water in your home, they just need to call, and right now we’re just looking for a name, an address and the amount of the water they received.”

Breland said only one person needs to call per household.

Besides the reporting the damage, James Hall, Bogalusa’s public works director, said residents need to separate their waste so FEMA can asses the level of damage in the community.

Hall said all “white” waste,” which includes, fringes, freezers, washers, dryers and water heaters, should go in one pile and furniture should go in another pile and construction debris should go in another pile and then vegetative debris, including downed tree limbs, should go in another pile.