Residents seek help with food, homes after Isaac
More than 33,000 residents of Ascension, Livingston and Tangipahoa parishes have applied for food stamps since Hurricane Isaac tore through Louisiana after its landfall on Aug. 28, authorities said Wednesday.
Another program that provides federal aid to help people repair their homes and get temporary housing has drawn about 13,400 applicants from those parishes, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
The food stamp offices in Ascension and Livingston ceased operation Tuesday, officials in those parishes said.
However, the two offices in Tangipahoa Parish will continue operation for several more days and both continue drawing steady streams of applicants, Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess said late Wednesday.
Burgess said the centers in Tangipahoa Parish opened several days after those in Livingston and Ascension parishes.
So far, 5,576 people have applied for food stamps in Tangipahoa, while 12,574 have applied in Ascension and 15,474 have applied in Livingston.
The Disaster Recovery Centers in all three parishes will continue operation for weeks, the three parish presidents said.
Those centers are handling individual assistance grants and loans from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
As of Wednesday morning, 2,325 people had applied for individual assistance in Ascension, 3,867 in Livingston and 7,200 in Tangipahoa parishes, said Gina Cortez, spokeswoman for FEMA.
Assistance grants approved for residents of the three parishes amounted to $3.9 million in Livingston, $3.6 million in Tangipahoa, and $764,489 in Ascension, she said.
In Tangipahoa, more than 1,500 homes flooded, and about 3,000 were damaged, Burgess said.
Federal teams are still trying to determine those numbers in Livingston Parish, said Mark Harrell, director of the Livingston Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness.
In Ascension, 40 homes flooded and more than 200 others were damaged, Parish President Tommy Martinez has said.
Homeowners may qualify for up to $31,400 each to help with damage extent beyond what is covered by insurance, FEMA official Maggie Dibendetto said
Michael Flores, speaking for the Small Business Administration, said low-interest loans are available for both residential and business owners hit with storm-related losses.
Homeowners also can cite storm damage as a reason for reducing their assessments and resulting property taxes, Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor said.