FEMA, SBA continuing to register flood victims

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 2, 2016

Residents in Franklinton and Bogalusa could be getting a knock on the door in the coming days as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) workers go from house to house helping register residents for potential grant money.

FEMA spokesperson Deanna Frazier said in the two weeks since FEMA workers have been going door-to-door, they’ve visited 1,956 homes in the area. Frazier said that teams are still finding people who did not know FEMA help is available, and that’s why they go door-to-door.

“There are people out there who still don’t now there is a disaster recovery center (DRC) in town, or who didn’t know they could register because they didn’t think they had enough damage,” Frazier said. “But we encourage people to register no matter how much damage they had, because you might notice, three months down the line, that you have structural damage, and then you can contact FEMA for an assessment.”

Frazier also pointed out that even homeowners — or renters — who would not qualify for a grant may still qualify for a low interest loan through the Small Business Administration, but to get the loan residents still need to sign up through FEMA.

“They have to register through us first and then we refer people to the SBA,” she said.

Besides registering claims, Frazier said the mobile teams can also answer certain questions about the process.

“They can see if they need extra services and they can check on the status of claimants,” she said.

Frazier said that three to five days after claims are filed, residents should get an a call to set up an appointment with a FEMA inspector who will visit the home. Approximately 10 days after filing the initial claim, an inspector should visit.

“They’ll come out and make a recommendation to FEMA about the amount they’re eligible for,” she said.

Frazier did say people may get that some homeowners might get denied at first, but they shouldn’t be discouraged.

“We want them to read the whole letter because sometimes there was just something missing in their registration,” Frazier explained.

She said any bit of missed information could cause the whole application to be rejected, in which case an applicant may appeal the process.

“We encourage people to appeal it, and we encourage people to go to the DRC for help on the appeal as well,” she said.

In Washington Parish alone, Frazier said 2,018 households have registered with FEMA. Across the state, nearly 30,000 families have registered.

“We’ve also approved about $52.4 million dollars,” she said.

Soon Franklinton-area residents will not need to drive to Bogalusa to seek assistance in a DRC. Bobbi Jo Breland, the parish’s emergency management specialist, announced on Friday that FEMA will open a center in Franklinton on Monday.

That center will be at Eastgate Shopping Center, 1924 Washington St., the location of the old Bargain Plus. It will be open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. through 6 p.m. and on Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m.

The Bogalusa Center at the First Pentecostal Church will remain open with the same hours. The church is located at 14532 Highway 21.