What Assistance is Available from FEMA for Survivors of Hurricane Ida?

Posted on: September 8, 2021
The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

President Biden approved a major disaster declaration that covers Louisiana parishes hit by Hurricane Ida. Homeowners and renters who live in the parishes listed below can apply for possible help with expenses or serious needs resulting from this declared disaster - which are not covered by insurance or other forms of assistance.

What parishes are covered by FEMA for Hurricane Ida?

Residents of:  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, and West Feliciana.

What types of assistance are available from FEMA?

Temporary housing, home repair assistance for homeowners, low-cost loans or funds to cover uninsured personal or real property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. FEMA does not cover expenses or losses covered by your insurance.

There are new FEMA assistance programs for survivors of Hurricane Ida:

1. Critical Needs Assistance (CNA):

FEMA may provide financial aid to people with immediate or critical needs because they are displaced from their primary dwelling. Immediate or critical needs are:  life- saving and life-sustaining items including, but not limited to: water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items and fuel for transportation. For Hurricane Ida, CNA provides a one-time award of up to $500.00 per household.

2. Generator and Chainsaw Reimbursement:

Eligible purchasers or rentals of a generator (up to $800) and/or chainsaw ($250) between Aug. 26, 2021 and Sept. 25, 2021 may be approved for FEMA reimbursement if the purchase is not covered by insurance or another source. The applicant must also meet the general eligibility requirements for FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program.

3. Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA):

FEMA may provide Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) for applicants who are unable to return to their pre-disaster primary residence because their home is either uninhabitable or inaccessible due to Hurricane Ida. TSA is intended to provide survivors with short-term accommodations through direct payments to lodging providers, if they have no way to cover this by insurance or other source.

Under TSA, disaster survivors may be able to stay in an approved hotel or motel for a limited period of time and have the cost of the room and taxes directly paid by FEMA. The applicant must cover all other costs associated with lodging and amenities, including, but not limited to incidental room charges or amenities, such as telephone, room service, food, etc.

FEMA approved applicants may choose any place on FEMA’s list of approved hotels in their area. The list of approved hotels is available at http://www.femaevachotels.com/index.php or the FEMA Helpline. FEMA provides applicants with access and functional needs additional assistance in locating approved hotels to meet their needs.

What if I have homeowners and flood insurance on my house?

You should still apply with FEMA.  Sometimes FEMA may cover some expenses that your insurer does not.  However, FEMA will NOT cover your insurance deductible. If you are insured, FIRST file your insurance claim as soon as possible. You can file with FEMA before you get your insurance company’s decision. FEMA will need to see insurance claim correspondence, including:

  • Denial of your claim letter: Proof that you are not covered under your insurance company and policy.  
  • Settlement letter: What damage and property are covered by your insurance policy. 
  • Delay letter: Proof of no official decision by your insurance company on your claim, and it has been more than 30 days from the time that you filed your insurance claim.

Citizenship Eligibility Requirements:

  • You, or someone who lives with you, must be a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national or a qualified alien.

Application Checklist:

Have a pen and paper ready and be prepared to give the following information:

  • Social Security Number: You, another adult member or minor child in your household MUST have a Social Security number. Note: You or they must also be a U.S. Citizens, a non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
  • Email Address (optional): You can use an email address to create an account on DissasterAssistance.gov to file and track the status of your claim. If you chose to communicate with the agency by phone or mail only, an email is not necessary. Although the agency has stated that filing a claim with an account on DissasterAssistance.gov is the most efficient route.
  • Insurance Information: Note the type(s) of insurance coverage you have. Like: homeowners, flood, auto, etc.
  • Damage Information: Type of dwelling or vehicle damaged due to Hurricane Ida. Like: Car, Truck, Mobile Home, Condo.
  • Financial Information: At the time of the disaster your total annual household income (before taxes). Like: Gross wages, unemployment insurance benefits, disability.
  • Contact Information:
    1. Provide the address and phone number of the property where the damage occurred.
    2. ALSO, provide the address and phone number where FEMA can reach you now.
  • Direct Deposit Information (optional): Subject to FEMA approval, FEMA can deposit your funds directly into your bank account now with the following information:
    1. Bank Name
    2. Type of Account (checking or savings)
    3. Routing Number
    4. Account Number

Occupancy and Ownership Verification:

FEMA has to verify occupancy and homeownership before it gives some types of help. As of September 2, 2021, to confirm occupancy, FEMA will accept the following:

  • Utility bills,
  • Other bills,
  • Employer’s documents,
  • Leasing/housing agreement,
  • Rent receipts,
  • Public official’s documents/letter (police chief, mayor, postmaster, state or local government),
  • Identification cards,
  • Motor vehicle registrations,
  • Affidavits of residency or other court documents,
  • Letters from local schools (public or private),
  • Letters from federal or state benefit providers,
  • Letters from social service organizations (such as community assistance programs and non-profits).

Additionally, survivors may also now use a signed statement from a commercial or mobile home park owner and provide self-certification for mobile homes and travel trailers.

To confirm ownership, FEMA will now accept the following:

  • Deed or official record,
  • Mortgage documentation,
  • Structural or real property insurance documents, bill or payment record,
  • Property tax receipts or property tax bill,
  • Manufactured home certificate of title,
  • Reals Estate Provisions,
  • Contract for Deed,
  • Land Installment Contract,
  • Quitclaim Deed,
  • Bill of Sale or Bond for Title,
  • Will or Affidavit of Heirship (naming applicant heir to the property and a death certificate),
  • Public official’s documents/letter,
  • Receipts for major repairs or improvements (dated within 5 years of disaster).

FEMA will allow survivors with HEIRSHIP PROPERTIES, MOBILE HOMES, or TRAVEL TRAILERS, who do not have traditional documentation (listed above) to verify ownership to self-certify ownership and qualify for assistance. 

What if my house is under a bond for deed or in a succession?

On September2, 2021, FEMA amended its policies to more easily assist some people who do not yet have formal title to their house.

This should be helpful for those with bond for deeds or where successions on the property has not been done, and other situations where home ownership is difficult to document.  Contact an attorney for information on a succession.

Tips for Your FEMA Claim:

  • Save all documentation that you can. Like: receipts for post-storm expenses for food, gas, lodging, replacement of property, etc.
  • Take pictures of your damages as soon as possible--before anyone starts clearing it out if at all possible.
  • If you are unsure about something, do not guess or enter information you know to be incorrect. It is best to wait to complete an application unit you have gathered all the information that you need.
  • Submitting multiple applications for a single disaster or household, may delay your case AND may lead to FEMA accusing you of fraud or making you pay back duplicated payments.
  • Phone calls from FEMA may seem to come from an unidentified number but there are also scams going on.  If you can handle your FEMA claim online, or at a FEMA disaster center with a FEMA representative, that is much safer.

What should I do if I don't have a social security number or if I've lost my social security card?

  • Visit: ssa.gov
  • You can get an original Social Security card or a replacement card if yours is lost or stolen (at no charge).
  • You can use my Social Security account to request a replacement Social Security card online if you:
    1. Are a U.S. citizen age 18 years or older with a U.S. mailing address.
    2. Are not requesting a name change or any other change to your card.
    3. Have a driver’s license or a state-issued ID card.

There are other card-replacement options, if necessary, available on the SSA website. Once you have your social security number, you can start FEMA’s application process.

What if my home has damage from Hurricane Ida but my parish is not covered?

Sometimes other parishes are added to the declaration later. You can revisit DisasterAssistance.gov to look up your address to check if your parish is added at a later date.

How can I apply for FEMA assistance?

  1. Online: DisasterAssistance.gov   (quickest way)
  2. Call 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-200-462-7585
  3. Download FEMA App with Apple or Google Play

Where can I get help with my FEMA application?

FEMA Helpline, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:

1‑800‑621‑3362 (711 and VRS available)

TTY 1‑800‑462‑7585

What should I do if my FEMA application is denied?

If you cannot tell from the denial, the first thing to do is to try to talk with FEMA staff to see what can be fixed. If the first FEMA call or visit is not helpful, do not give up. The fastest way to fix denials is to correct what you sent in.  So, it is best to try to find out what could fix the problem.

If that does not work, you can appeal the denial but this MUST be done within sixty days of the denial.  Appeal decisions will not come quickly.  Appeals can be submitted by mail, fax, online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov, or in-person at a disaster relief center.

You can call Southeast Louisiana Legal Services to see if we can give you free help with any of this, at 1-844-244-7871. Or you can apply for our help online at https://lastate.kempscaseworks.com/

Do I have to do anything else after I have received FEMA assistance?

Yes, keep all receipts of money you spent related to Hurricane Ida.  FEMA can require you repay money that you do not keep receipts for.

If you received FEMA assistance, you may have to recertify your eligibility to get more, especially if you are getting rent or hotel assistance.  You will need to submit receipts showing how you spent the money and show a lack of adequate other housing.  You might have to show more.

The review can take days or longer.  So, try to do it ahead of when you need more help.

for ongoing support, submitting receipts once every three months documenting disaster-related housing costs and a lack of adequate alternate housing, among other possible required proofs.  Failure to recertify can lead to loss of ongoing assistance.

Can I get a copy of my FEMA file?

Yes, your full FEMA file can be obtained by mailing a request to FEMA - Individuals & Households Program, National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055. Include your FEMA application number, identification of the disaster (i.e. Hurricane Ida), your Social Security number, and a current mailing address, among other information.

One can also create an online account on http://www.disasterassistance.gov to view all documents that FEMA sent you, but it may include only the titles of documents that FEMA received from you.  Also usually not included in an online account are FEMA inspection reports, photos, FEMA’s internal notes about your file, conversation notes, or other information.

More information on FEMA and Hurricane Ida assistance in Louisiana can be found at: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4611

Also, here: https://gohsep.la.gov/RESOURCES/DISASTER-ASSISTANCE

False statements to FEMA:

FEMA assistance is a federal program.  False statements can lead to criminal charges.

FEMA payment error:

If FEMA later decides it should not have paid you, either because you made a mistake or you committed fraud, by law it must ask for that money back.  If that happens, you can appeal the notice of debt. Keep all receipts and records for at least seven years if you can.

*All information from FEMA.gov, SSA.gov and DisasterAssistance.gov
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