FEMA sets up office in Bogalusa

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up a mobile disaster response center at 200 West 9th St. at the Avenue B Ballpark.

The center opened Tuesday and it will be open through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The center will take claims for those affected by flooding two weeks ago and a representative from the Small Business Administration will also be on hand to answer questions from business owners, homeowners and renters. Yolanda Stokes, a public information officer with the SBA, said business owners will first need to register their claim with FEMA before they can register for a loan through the SBA.

FEMA can offer grants or loans for qualified victims.

Deanna Frazier, a FEMA media relations specialist, said FEMA has a variety of low-interest loans to renters or homeowners.

“There are three types of assistance that’s available,” Frazier said. “People can get three months of rental assistance and they can also get assistance to help with property repairs and property replacements. That’s for un-insured or underinsured losses only. We do not duplicate the services people already received from their insurance company.”

In a similar vein, the SBA is also able to loan money to renters and homeowners, but they are also allowed to loan money to business owners. The SBA loans are up to $200,000 for a primary residence, $40,000 for personal property, which renters can also request, and business owners can apply for a loan of up to $2 million. The home loans come with 1.8 percent interest; private nonprofits can get loans at a rate of

2.625 percent interest and interest on business loans is 4 percent. The loans may extend for 30 years.

“There’s also an automatic deferral built into our disaster loans as well,” Stokes said. “There’s a lot of flexibility built into the program, and if, for some reason, they’re not eligible for a loan, they’re automatically referred back to FEMA’s grant program.”

The deadline for homeowners and renters to file a claim is May 12. Business owners have until Dec. 13 to file a claim with the SBA. FEMA has the same May 12 deadlines and they do not offer business owners loans.

Frazier said that in order to process claims, residents should come with a few things in hand.

“They’ll need a social security number, they’ll need to leave personal contact information, a proof of residency like a utility bill, insurance policy information if they had insurance, as well as bank routing information if they want their grant to go directly into their account,” she said.

Business owners can get extra assistance at the Bogalusa YMCA beginning Thursday, when the Louisiana Economic Development and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network establish a business recovery center there. The centers will be staffed by state experts who can help nonprofits and business owners navigate the SBA system and asses damages and loss and cash flow projections.

The YMCA is located at 411 Ave. B and the business recovery center will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The FEMA and SBA disaster recovery center will remain in the park until further notice.

Across a state hit hard by floods, Frazier said thousands are seeking federal aid.

“There’s about 18,000 individuals and households in Louisiana that have already registered for FEMA assistance, and we’re not even finished,” she said.

If anyone cannot make it out to the DRC, then Frazier said people can put in claims with a telephone call or online. The phone number is 1-800-621-FEMA and the website is disasterassistance.gov .

The SBA can be contacted at 1-800-659-2955 or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.