Flood victims not eligible for federal financial assistance

Ascension and other parishes flooded by the recent spate of severe storms will not be eligible for FEMA public assistance and individual assistance funding.

Rick Webre, director of the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said that after assessments of the affected parishes, the damage was not enough to make Louisiana flood victims eligible for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Webre told West Ascension drainage officials Thursday that 109 uninsured homes have been identified as being flooded but not enough of those homes and other flooded homes in St. James Parish met federal criteria for “major damage.”

Webre explained that the criteria for federal assistance looks at severe flooding that affects not only walls but also harms the foundation of homes.

Webre said Ascension will probably end up determining that 150 homes were flooded in the storms once the damage assessments are fully completed.

Webre and officials in St. James and Assumption parishes have been saying this week that they did not believe the storms caused enough damage to prompt aid from FEMA.

The round of damage assessments this week have apparently born this out.

Individual assistance is a FEMA program that helps residents with lodging, rental and other costs after a disaster.

Webre added that the recent damage assessments indicate Ascension and other parishes also won’t be eligible for public assistance from FEMA either. That program helps local governments repair damaged public buildings and pay for debris pickup and other storm-related costs.

Webre revealed the information Thursday evening with the West Ascension Gravity Drainage District Board of Commissioners, which oversees drainage work on the west bank of Ascension Parish.

Similar to the worst hit areas of Ascension and St. James parishes, the west bank had 18 inches of rain during the storms and 13 inches in the first 10 hours.