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FEMA, others provide more resources to Ida victims

The Cat 4 Hurricane slammed into Louisiana on August 29
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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Damage from Hurricane Ida in Louisiana
Damage from Hurricane Ida in Louisiana(Briana Kent)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Hurricane Ida devastated southeast Louisiana almost a month ago on August 29 and government agencies say resources are still being allocated to victims of the Cat 4 storm.

John Mills is a FEMA spokesman.

“FEMA’s already provided $504 million in grants directly to survivors,” said Mills.

Housing remains a challenge for some people.

“We’re providing money for temporary rental assistance, so people can get a roof over their head, it’s not a permanent fix,” said Mills.

He said the federal agency is also helping eligible homeowners with funds for basic repairs.

“So, they can make their home habitable and continue to live in their home,” said Mills.

And FEMA says its already paying to house thousands of Hurricane Ida victims in hotels.

“How long people can stay in the hotels depends on their level of damage. We’re working closely with everyone on a case-by-case basis. Right now, more than eight thousand households are in hotels, FEMA’s paying for those hotels,” Mills said.

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But so far FEMA is not bringing in trailers for storm victims who cannot live in their homes.

“The state is in the lead and we’re working closely with the state to support requests we get. Sometimes when we get a request to bring in temporary housing it can take more time because of construction requirements that have to be done, so that’s why we’re providing money, rapidly to people to help them rent a place to live,” said Mills.

Meanwhile, complaints persist over the pace of installing free blue tarp over damaged roofs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is running the Blue Roof Program.

Lt. Col. Jason Thomas Sears say they are working to increase blue roof installations.

“We’ve completed as of today, 5,843 roofs, and yesterday alone the contractors were able to put on over 1,100 roofs,” said Sears.

FOX 8 asked why more roofs had not been covered so far through the program.

“We certainly sympathize with folks of Louisiana and we’re certainly trying to get as many done as fast as we can and fortunately we got good weather the last few days coming up and we will continue to increase our numbers and we’re hoping to reach, you know, close to 1300, 1500 per day with our contractors,” Sears responded.

He also said not as many roofs need to be covered as first thought.

“We had a total of 63,490 folks then after our data team scrubbed the information, we found out that we had a lot of duplications, cancellations and actually a few disqualifications, so actually we’re down to just shy of 44,000 applicants,” said Sears.

People continue to say they cannot access the state’s disaster food assistance of DSNAP phone line to apply and be interviewed.

In response, the Department of Children and Family Services says there are intermittent problems and DSNAP applicants should call back, the phone issue usually clears up.

Also, DCFS says as of 12:30 p.m. on Friday 7,449 calls had been handled and that the average wait time is 1 hour, 14 minutes.

Yesterday the agency said it handled 12,069 calls. A spokesman for DCFS says call volumes remain high and callers are asked to be patient and if the line is busy wait a few minutes before calling back.

DCFS expects around 185,000 people to apply for food stamps. For this Friday and Saturday, the call center hours have been extended until 7:30 pm.

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