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Prepare Now to Evacuate Your Travel Trailer When Dangerous Weather Approaches (From FEMA: June 19th, 2006)

 NEW ORLEANS – Although Louisiana has had more than its share of devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, there is no guarantee the storms predicted for this year will bypass the state. Officials with the

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Louisiana remind travel trailer residents that if a tropical storm is predicted they must be ready to evacuate.

 “A tropical storm warning indicates winds are sustained between 39 and 73 mph. If a warning is issued you should be prepared to vacate your travel trailer,” said Jim Stark, acting director of FEMA’s Transitional Recovery Office in Louisiana. “The high winds generated by a tropical storm or hurricane can cause damage to travel trailers. If a Category 1 hurricane develops this means winds will reach 74 miles per hour. At this level extensive damage can be caused.”

 Obviously, hurricanes above Category 1 mean even greater destruction. Travel trailers are anchored to the ground at the front and in the rear, but it is considered unsafe to try to remain in them during high winds. If a storm is forecast, listen to your local officials for guidance.  

 Prepare now for an evacuation: 

  • Keep fuel in your vehicle.
  • Make sure you know your evacuation route.
  • Items left outside may become projectiles due to high winds and should be placed inside your trailer. If an item won’t fit inside, secure it as best you can by tying it down.
  • Let your local emergency management officials know in advance if you will need assistance to evacuate.
  • Keep tuned into weather news on television or radio.
  • Have your disaster preparation kit ready, or go to www.ready.gov for help on creating one.
  • Have cash on hand.

 If your local officials order an evacuation, do the following:  

  • Close and lock your windows.
  • Close and lock the roof vent.
  • Turn off the electricity at the main circuit breaker.
  • Turn off the main water valve outside the trailer and disconnect the hose.
  • Turn off the two propane tanks outside by tightening the valves clockwise.
  • Take any items that might spoil out of your refrigerator and freezer.
  • Do not take or move the trailer! It is federal property and illegal to move.
  • Take important personal items and your pets with you.
  • Lock the door and take your keys with you.

For additional information about being prepared in advance when a disaster strikes and what to include in your emergency evacuation kit go to www.ready.gov or call 1-800-BE-READY.

 

IBERIA AND VERMILION GET BASE FLOOD ELEVATION MAPS TO SUPPORT REBUILDING

BATON ROUGE, La. – To help Louisiana coastal communities make prudent
rebuilding decisions during the hurricanes Katrina and Rita recovery process,
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) is releasing additional flood recovery guidance for Iberia and
Vermilion parishes.
This guidance is a follow-up to the flood recovery guidance documents released
on Dec. 1, 2005, and provides these parishes with maps that depicts the
Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE). Parishes can then use these documents to
make better decisions on rebuilding their storm-ravaged communities.

The ABFE maps are available online at:

http://www.fema.gov/hazards/floods/recoverydata/rita_la_iberia.shtm

This website should be
monitored for future flood recovery guidance updates and information.
In addition, this mapping will provide local governments with information
regarding:
• Hurricane Katrina inundation limits;
• High water marks;
• Advisory base flood elevation zones;
• The limit of the advisory base flood elevation zones;
• Updated coastal high hazard (v zone) limits.
This mapping should be used in conjunction with the Flood Recovery Guidance
documents previously released to assure that the recovery and rebuilding effort
is conducted in a manner to reduce potential for future losses. 
“Our goal is to help states and local communities make the best decisions as
the reconstruction progress   continues in these communities,” said Frank
Pagano, FEMA’s director of the flood insurance and mitigation division for
Region VI. “This guidance provides communities the specific information they
need to make better-informed decisions on how high water might rise during
floods -- and at what height buildings should be constructed.”

After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA assessed its existing flood risk data
and found that information needed to be updated. ABFE maps take into account
data used in the development of the flood advisory documents released on Dec.
1, 2005 (e.g. storm data from the past 35 years, including major hurricanes
like Camille, Georges, Katrina and Rita, as well as coastal land loss,
degradation of coastal barriers and subsidence, or sinking land).

ABFE maps show areas that have a one percent annual flood risk and update
levels at which water could rise, given that one percent chance event. The one
percent annual chance flood elevation represents a flood that has a one percent
chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The one percent annual
chance flood is used as the standard for setting premium rates and requirements
for the National Flood Insurance Program.

“FEMA strongly recommends that communities build higher and stronger to
reduce vulnerability from flooding during future hurricanes,” said David
Maurstad, FEMA’s acting director of mitigation and acting federal flood
insurance administrator. “FEMA provides this kind of advisory information to
local governments -- but ultimately it is state and local officials, working
with their citizens, who make final decisions on land use and other building
code requirements.”
Given the complexities of assessing flood risk behind and near levees,
additional work is under way to produce similar guidance for levee-protected
areas.  FEMA is coordinating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the
Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force to develop additional flood
recovery guidance documents and ABFE maps for those areas.
                 
The ABFE maps were created to provide communities with more accurate and
up-to-date flood hazard data. The maps serve to assist state and local
officials and those rebuilding in making decisions on how to reconstruct to
help minimize vulnerability to future flood events.
These maps are being released for advisory purposes, and will not increase
flood insurance premiums or flood insurance requirements of the National Flood
Insurance Program.
 

FARMERS, RANCHERS ENCOURAGED TO APPLY FOR DISASTER AID      BATON ROUGE, La. -- Disaster assistance may be available to Louisiana farmers and ranchers who have suffered damage or incurred losses as a result of Hurricane Katrina, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (LOEP). “We understand the needs of rural Louisianans,” said Mark Smith, public information officer for LOEP. “Farmers and ranchers are a strong part of many communities. We want to make sure they’re aware of the help available to rebuild their operations and recover.” Farmers and ranchers who have suffered disaster related losses to production, as well as property losses are urged to contact  FEMA’s toll-free registration line at 800-621-FEMA (TTY 800-462-7585) to apply for assistance. The toll-free line is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice.For those who are eligible, low-interest emergency loans are available for production loss to crops and physical losses including livestock and farm buildings. One hundred percent cost sharing to rehabilitate farmland by removing debris, grading, shaping and re-leveling, restoring fences and other conservation measures may also be available. For additional information about Emergency Loan Assistance, Emergency Conservation Program, and Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Loans and “on-farm” grain storage, farmers and ranchers are urged to contact their local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Farm Service Agency (FSA) representatives as soon as possible for emergency assistance. More information can also be found at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov and the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854; for the hearing or speech impaired (TTY) 1-800-256-7072.

EASY TO USE WEBSITE AVAILABLE FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR HOUSING
BATON ROUGE, La. — Victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita can search for
available rental housing using Disaster Housing Resource Online (DHR Online) at
www.dhronline.org. DHR Online is an easy-to-use website that lists immediately
available rental properties. Victims can search by location, price range, and
housing description including number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
One evacuee, who is currently living in a motel, was successful in finding
housing through DHR Online. After applying, she was put in touch with a leasing
manager at a local apartment complex in Baton Rouge, and within three hours,
she was approved for her apartment. She will be moving into her apartment in
January.
The U.S. Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says DHR Online was an important asset in locating housing for people displaced
during the 2004 hurricane season and believes that it will be a valuable tool
to help Gulf Coast residents recover from this year’s hurricanes.
Also, property owners who have an apartment or house for rent can list their
available properties on this website at no cost.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and
recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates
mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local
emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program.

LOUISIANA DISASTER VICTIMS MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR SPECIAL TAX RELIEF

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana residents who were suffered losses from
Hurricanes Katrina may be eligible for special tax relief under legislation
passed earlier this year. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Louisiana Department of Revenue urge Louisiana taxpayers to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a local
tax professional to take advantage of these benefits.
Tax relief is available to individuals throughout Louisiana, though some relief
is specifically targeted to individuals in the most severely impacted areas.
Relief is available for both individuals and business owners, and includes:
• The ability to withdraw up to $100,000 without penalty from certain
retirement accounts.
• Filers who itemize do not have to deduct 10 percent of their adjusted gross
income and a $100 deductible to claim disaster losses. Filers can claim up to
the full amount of the loss.
• An option to file an amended 2004 return, or to claim your losses on your
2005 tax return.

The Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005 also provides tax relief for
individuals who provided assistance to disaster victims. Individuals who took
in hurricane victims are also eligible for tax relief. This includes a $500
deduction for each person they housed for at least 60 days, up to $2,000
dollars per year. The act also raises the rate for mileage deductions for the
use of personal vehicles for charitable purposes and lifts the cap on
charitable deductions made through the end of 2005.
Taxpayers in the most severely affected parishes also have extended deadlines
to file amended returns or quarterly taxes. For specific information about what
tax benefits are available to each individual, FEMA encourages Louisianians to
contact the IRS at www.irs.gov or at a toll-free hotline established to help
hurricane victims with tax matters, 1-866-562-5227.
 

FEMA EXPLAINS FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM APPEALS PROCESS

BATON ROUGE, La. — A four-step process exists for homeowners to appeal
decisions regarding a claim through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA).
The process helps resolve claim issues, but can’t give homeowners added
coverage or claim limits beyond those in their NFIP policies.
Step 1
Homeowners should talk with their adjuster, who has more knowledge about the
claim than anyone. If clients don’t understand certain decisions regarding
application of coverage, timing of the filing of proof of loss, or the damage
estimate, they should first contact their adjuster.
Step 2
Clients who aren’t satisfied with the adjuster’s answers, or do not agree
with the decisions, should get contact information for the adjuster’s
supervisor. The adjuster should provide contact information.
Step 3
If the adjuster’s supervisor can’t resolve the issue, clients should
contact the insurance company’s claim representative. The insurance agent or
another company representative should provide assistance.
Step 4
Clients with questions or concerns after following the first three steps may
contact FEMA in writing at:

FEMA-Mitigation Division-Room 433
Risk Insurance Branch
Attn: Director of Claims
500 C Street, S.W.
Washington D.C. 20472

The letter should be written by the named insured as it appears on the NFIP
policy or by a legal representative such as a child handling a claim for an
elderly parent. This representative should clearly identify their relationship
to the named insured. A legal representative may be asked to provide
authorization from the named insured or other legal documents verifying the
relationship.

Six items should be in the letter:

1. The policy number, as shown as the named insured on the NFIP policy’s
declarations page.
2. The policyholder’s name, as shown as the named insured on the declarations
page.
3. The property address, as shown on the declarations page. This is NOT the
person’s mailing address if it is different from the property address.
4. How the claimant can be contacted if they are out of the home.
5. Specific details of the claimant’s concern.
6. The dates of contact and contact details for the persons with whom the
claimant has spoken to while completing the first three steps of the appeals
process.

Claimants should also enclose documentation of everything that supports their
appeal such as a detailed list of damaged property and the value of individual
items; supporting photographs; and a contractor’s detailed estimate to repair
damages. Comparing contractor and adjuster estimates in detail may help resolve
differences. Claimants should not send original documents.

Under the NFIP, federally-backed flood insurance is available to homeowners,
renters and business owners in communities that adopt and enforce floodplain
management ordinances to reduce future flood losses by regulating new
construction in high flood-risk areas. More than 4.7 million flood insurance
policies exist in about 20,000 participating communities nationwide,
representing nearly $793 billion worth of coverage. The NFIP is
self-supporting: claims and operating expenses are paid from policyholder
premiums, not taxpayer dollars.

More than 220,000 claims have been made since the Hurricane Katrina struck Aug.
29 and Hurricane Rita landed Sept. 21, with more than $8 billion already paid
and about 60 percent of claims closed. That includes about 40,000 claims not
paid because damage suffered by homes wasn’t caused by flooding or the amount
suffered was below the homeowner’s deductible.
 

FEMA FUNDS DISASTER HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are helping individuals and families with rental assistance who were previously
a resident of HUD-assisted housing prior to Hurricane Katrina.
Through a new FEMA-funded housing assistance program called the Katrina
Disaster Housing Assistance Program (KDHAP), families will be able to settle in
areas, across the United States, that were not affected by the disaster. FEMA
will relocate families to the area of their choice. The families may return to
their home state as housing is rebuilt or repaired.
To qualify for the KDHAP program, individuals must have been previously HUD
assisted by a Section 8 voucher, in public housing or in some other type of
HUD-assisted property, or homeless immediately before Hurricane Katrina.
KDHAP provides up to 18 months of rental assistance beginning from the date of
the official declaration of the disaster on Aug. 29, 2005. Eligible families
must first register with FEMA by calling                   1-800-621-FEMA
(3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 and be registered no later than Dec. 31, 2005 to
be eligible for KDHAP.
The amount of rental assistance for KDHAP is up to 100 percent of the fair
market rental rate for the area. All property owners and landlords are
encouraged to support the KDHAP program and make their vacant units available
to families displaced by Katrina. They should contact their local housing
authorities if they have units available.
To register with the KDHAP program, call the KDHAP Referral Call Center at
1-866-373-9509.
 

For an update on your claim you may now call the FEMA hotline at:

 1-800-621-FEMA

Those who have not registered can also call 1-800-621-3362 or register on line at: www.fema.gov  HEARING/SPEECH IMPAIRED PERSONS CAN CALL TTY: 1-800-462-7585.

Your Disaster Aid Check May be at the Post Office
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery officials are reminding evacuees from both Katrina and Hurricane Rita that it’s important to notify the U.S. Postal Service of every change of address, so that they can receive vital mail including important documents like disaster assistance checks being mailed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
 
The officials said that staying in touch with FEMA is one of several ways that evacuees can ensure that approved aid reaches them quickly. Evacuees who have registered for assistance with FEMA should report all changes of address by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 800-462-7585, or going online to www.fema.gov. FEMA staff at Disaster Recovery Centers can also update disaster contact information.
“We understand that many families will move from one place to another as they work to reorder their lives,” said Vice Admiral Thad Allen, principal federal official for Hurricane Katrina recovery. “The U.S. Postal Service and FEMA are working together to quickly and securely get assistance checks into the right hands.”
There are three ways to change your address -- by phone, online, or in person:
Call 800-ASK-USPS (275-8777). Operators are available Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit www.usps.com, 24 hours per day and make the change.
Stop by any U.S. Post Office, and fill out a change of address form.
If a change of address notice has not been completed, the USPS will hold mail for ten days. If mail is not picked up during that time, it will then be viewed as undeliverable. Undelivered disaster assistance checks that are returned to FEMA will be held by FEMA until the evacuee notifies the agency of his or her new address.
Proper identification is always required to safeguard the checks. The unique control number given to each applicant after registration helps ensure the integrity of the process. When possible, FEMA distributes financial aid through direct-deposit (electronic funds transfer) to avoid the problems of trying to reach displaced victims who make a series of temporary moves following a disaster.

KANE "Buzz" Line:
(337) 367-1240

KANE Business Line:
(337) 365-3434

 

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