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  • Baton Rouge launches web map to monitor heavy rainfall

    The City of Baton Rouge is launching a Web mapping application that allows city officials to monitor U.S. Geological Survey and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stream gauge data every hour during weather events. With multi-colored dots that represent each stream gauge, responders can see how high water levels are in that area at a given time. This allows city officials to direct response resources to where they are most needed.

    Baton Rouge announced the launch of this platform via a Facebook post. The map, which is live now, was built in collaboration with the city’s Department of Information Services’ GIS Division.   

    Read more by Zack Quaintance Staff Writer with

  • Government Tech
  • at http://www.govtech.com/civic/Whats-New-In-Civic-Tech-Amazon-Seeks-Proposals-For-Where-To-Build-Its-Second-North-American-HQ.html#.

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    Group flood insurance coverage may be automatic for August ’16 victims

    Group Flood Insurance 

    Survivors of the August 2016 floods may automatically receive Group Flood Insurance coverage if they have claimed disaster assistance for a home or personal belongings which was not covered by flood insurance.

    You may receive Group Flood Insurance coverage if you:

    • Live in a flood-prone area;
    • Do not have flood insurance;
    • Suffered property damage from the August flooding;
    • Are approved for FEMA disaster assistance; and
    • You were denied a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
    • If you meet all these conditions, you will receive Group Flood Insurance coverage for a three-year period ending October 13, 2019. The premium will be deducted from your FEMA disaster assistance grant.
    • Renters will also receive Group Flood Insurance if they intend to return to their rental property.
    • Group Flood Insurance provides damage coverage up to $33,000. You can upgrade your coverage — up to $250,000 — by purchasing an individual flood insurance policy. If you choose to purchase an individual policy, your Group Flood Insurance will be canceled.
    • FEMA gives applicants a 60-day notice of policy expiration and a final notice of termination of coverage. When the Group Flood Insurance Policy expires, the applicant is responsible for purchasing and maintaining flood insurance on their own.  Failure to maintain flood insurance will affect applicant eligibility for future disaster assistance.

    For more information on the Group Flood Insurance program or flood insurance in general, call the FEMA at 800-621-3362 and press #2. You can also go online at www.floodsmart.gov.

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    State completes contract with IEM, invites interested subcontractors

    Louisiana has finalized a contract with global consulting firm IEM to manage the $1.3 billion Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program to help residents rebuild and repair their homes after historic flooding in March and August 2016.

    Founded in Baton Rouge in 1985 and headquartered in North Carolina, IEM focuses on emergency management. The company has worked on major recovery efforts, including Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. It also has a full-service office in Baton Rouge.

    Interested subcontractors can contact IEM directly by calling (225) 952-8256 or emailing Rela_subcontracting@iem.com.

    The homeowner assistance program is funded by $1.6 billion in flood recovery allocations through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition, the state is negotiating a contract with CohnReznick LLP, a quality control accounting, tax and advisory firm, to monitor the program.

    The Restore Louisiana Task Force comprises 21 individuals from throughout the state who were appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to oversee the rebuilding process after historic flooding in March and August 2016 impacted 51 parishes. The Task Force’s mission is divided into six categories: community planning, economic, health and social services, housing, infrastructure and natural and cultural resources. All task force documents are available at http://restore.la.gov/resources/. For more information, visit restore.la.gov.

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    Community plans for library renovations following Great Flood

    Two meetings held March 20 regarding renovation plans for Greenwell Springs Road Branch Lbrary
    Monday, March 20, was busy at the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch Library, as community members gathered first at an informal architectural charrette and later at a formal architectural presentation of renovation plans for the Library site.  Greenwell Springs Library re-opened March 3 after sustaining water damage from the Historic Flood of August 2016.  Now it’s time to look toward the future of the Library and plans to renovate it so it is updated for meeting rooms, unique spaces for teens and children, technology, resources and much more.
    The public review was of the concept design by Bradley-Blewster / Hidell Architects to determine future, more complex renovation work. Next the architects and Library staff will produce findings to the East Baton Rouge Board of Control, along with suggested renovation plans or changes.
    The Greenwell Springs Library is one of the oldest of 11 “old” Library branches in the parish.  It and six other older sites are scheduled for major renovations through 2025.  All Library projects are completely funded via the Library’s dedicated tax millage, which passed in 2015.  And all Library projects are designed and constructed on the pay-as-you-go plan.  Greenwell Springs Road Regional Library (built in 1997) and Jones Creek Regional Library (built in 1990) are the first two of these renovation projects.
    For Greenwell Springs Library’s renovation, $5.257-plus million has been budgeted for the project.  Architects were selected in August, prior to the flood, and they have begun concept work. To view the concept plan, visit the Greenwell Springs Reginal Branch Library Construction Project Infoguide at http://ebrpl.libguides.com/greenwell.
    For more information, call Greenwell Springs Library at (225) 274-4450, the Main Library at (225) 231-3750 or online at www.ebrpl.com.
    Photo: Library Director Spencer Watts (center, red tie) and experts listen to community members regarding innovation plans for Greenwell Springs Road Branch Library at an open house March 20. (EBRPL photo)
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    Bill to exempt flood victims from taxes pass in Senate

    Senator Neil RiserA key Senate panel approved Senator Neil Riser’s bill exempting flood victims from paying state income tax in 2017. Without objection, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee approved SB 240 on May 1.

    “This morning, we sent an important message to flood victims across Louisiana that you are not forgotten,” Riser said. “Many families and businesses are still struggling to recover. With limited funds available, the least the state can do is exempt them from paying income tax for one year while they rebuild their lives,” Riser said.

    If the bill becomes law, the first $100,000 of income that a family earns in 2017 will be exempt from state income tax if the family sustained $10,000 or more of losses during 2016 flooding.

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    New app helps flooded homeowners with title problems

    Flood Proof: Free Legal Help for Homeowners with Title Problems launched a new iPhone app to streamline the process for homeowners seeking to obtain a clear title to inherited property.

    “Homeowners who were affected by the August floods and lack clear title to their home need to gather information and documents to prove title.  The Flood Proof App is a tool that will allow flood victims to do exactly that from their home or place of temporary residence, and hopefully minimize the number of times that they have to take off of work or arrange child care in order to make multiple trips to an attorney’s office,” said Judy Perry Martinez, Special Advisor to the newly created American Bar Association Center for Innovation and former chair of the ABA Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services.

    Many homeowners living in homes passed down from family members are unable to qualify for federal or state recovery aid due to the floods, loans to repair their homes, or insurance proceeds because they cannot prove they own their property. This typically happens when a loved one dies and a relative still living in the home then has legal rights to the inherited property. Title does not automatically pass to the relative as a legal matter until he or she takes legal action to open a succession, file documents with a court and obtain a judgment of possession.

    “From making repairs to their homes, to finding new schools for their children, to caring and taking in loved ones, victims of the August floods already have so much that they have to wrap their heads around,” said Martinez. “The goal of this overall project and of the app is for homeowners to begin the process necessary to obtain a clear title to their homes in the quickest and most efficient way possible and afford free legal services to those who qualify. We already are seeing results.”

    As of March 3, almost 130 individuals had begun the process of obtaining clear title by attending legal fairs hosted by Flood Proof attorneys or by calling the 1-844-244-7871 hotline number. People affected by the August 2016 flooding can use the app to find out what information they will need, quickly and safely upload relevant documents, and find out if they are eligible for free legal services.
    Flood survivors can download the app by searching for “Flood Proof: Louisiana Legal Help” in the iTunes App Store or by visiting the Flood Proof: Free Legal Help for Homeowners with Title Problems website. The app is also available for download for Android users in Google Play.

    The Flood Proof app was developed with support from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation, Stanford University Law School and the LSU Law Center.  The project is led by Southeast Louisiana Legal Services in collaboration with the Baton Rouge Bar Foundation, Southern University Law Center, LSU Law Center, Louisiana Appleseed, and the American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation.  Generous support funding the project is provided through grants from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Louisiana Bar Foundation, the Equal Justice Works Foundation, and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

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    FEMA releases Louisiana recovery numbers

    About $4.7 billion in federal disaster assistance has flowed to Louisiana after the August flood.

    • The National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $2.3 billion in claims
    • SBA loans have been approved for more than $1.2 billion to help businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.
    • FEMA has obligated $756 million to individuals and households and $294 million to public assistance.
    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved $133 million in food benefits to flood survivors.

    Individuals and Housing Program (IHP)

    • $755 million has been approved for individual and housing assistance.
    • Other Needs Assistance (ONA)
    • 42,227 households have been approved for $161 million in other needs assistance.

    Rental Assistance

    • $134 million cumulative total for approved rental assistance.
    • 66,805 households are eligible.

    Home Repair Assistance

    • 34,757 households are eligible for $456 million.

    Public Assistance (PA)

    • 301 project worksheets have been obligated for $294 million.
    • $60 million of that amount pays for temporary facilities for schools and to clean and remove flood debris.

    Transitional Sheltering Assistance

    • 4,332 cumulative survivors have been checked in for TSA.
    • 968 households are checked into 175 hotels in three states.

    Department of Agriculture

    • USDA approved $133 million in food benefits to flood survivors.

    National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

    • More than $2.3 billion in claims has been paid.
    • More than 28,000 claims have been closed.

    Small Business Administration (SBA)

    • 17,223 SBA loans have been approved for more than $1.2 billion to help businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.

    Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs)

    • 4,060 households licensed-into 4,192 manufactured housing units.

    Total projection for MHU installation is 4,502.

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    Master P to host flood benefit concert

    Master P is on a mission to help the victims of the recent deadly Louisiana floods.

    During the annual NBA All Star Weekend celebration on February 18, 2017, which will take place in his hometown of New Orleans, the music mogul is hosting a benefit concert and fundraiser in the city to help displaced families in Baton Rouge get back into their homes.

    “Together we will entertain and give fans a great show but the real mission is to help get families back into their homes,” Master P wrote on the event’s website. “In Baton Rouge, there is still a lot of pollution in the air, water damages and mildew.”

    Since Aug. 12, more than 112,000 Baton Rouge residents have been affected by flooding, which also destroyed approximately 40,000 homes, and left 13 people dead ― making it America’s worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, according to the Red Cross.

    “I want all the athletes to come out, we are going to have all the top celebrities there from Usher to Lil Wayne,” he told Vibe on the event’s mission.

    “When people look at the floods and a lot of victims, they are not back in their homes yet in Baton Rouge, and I feel like for All Star Weekend, even though this will be a fun event, It will be a way for everyone to do their part, so this concert will be great for our people and Baton Rouge.”

    Read more »
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    Crisis counseling can help families cope with recent flood

    Recovery efforts in Louisiana continue following the historic August floods, and many survivors are still coping with the immediate effects of the disaster. While obvious problems such as home repair preoccupy some Louisianans, there is a quieter, more ominous issue that may threaten flood survivors.

    Disaster-related distress is a silent, serious threat to any individual affected by a major disaster. It can manifest in the form of depression, anxiety or even post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the National Center for PTSD, more than 50 percent of those affected by major disasters develop some kind of clinically significant stress disorder.

    Disaster-related distress is particularly treacherous because it is virtually unpredictable. While individuals with preexisting stress disorders or addictions are more likely to suffer from disaster-related distress, it can attack anyone at any time. Even individuals who show no signs of stress-related disorders immediately after a disaster may develop a condition years later.

    Disaster-related distress, like any other illness, is most easily recognized by its symptoms. While symptoms vary by case and may be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, disaster-related stress disorders usually produce a combination of the following warning signs:

    • Headaches
    • Chest or muscle tightening
    • Fatigue
    • Inability to sleep
    • Overall restlessness
    • Uncontrollable anger, sadness or fear
    • Lack of appetite
    • Substance abuse
    • Social withdrawal
    • Suicidal thoughts

    Individuals exhibiting many or all of these symptoms should seek treatment from a licensed therapist immediately. If left untreated, disaster-related distress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and/or suicidal tendencies.

    While the diagnosis and treatment of disaster-related distress may seem like a daunting process, it is not one that flood survivors and their loved ones need to go through alone. All survivors of the August flooding can take advantage of free disaster crisis counseling available through FEMA and the state of Louisiana.

    The Crisis Counseling Program is funded by FEMA and implemented by the state. The purpose of the program is to provide survivors with free, local counseling services that promote resilience, empowerment and recovery.

    The crisis counselors available through the Crisis Counseling Program are local people, many of whom have also been affected by flooding. These counselors are not therapists; they come from all careers and walks of life. However, they have all been trained to educate, support and inform survivors. If necessary, the crisis counselors can refer survivors to therapists for diagnosis and treatment.

    Crisis counselors are available at all FEMA disaster recovery centers. To find a center near you, call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or text DRC and your ZIP code to 43362. You can also find a center near you by downloading the FEMA mobile app or going online to fema.gov/drc.

    For more information regarding the Crisis Counseling Program or to set up an appointment for counseling, call the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health at 866-310-7977 or the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-985-5990.

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    Tina, Solange, Kelly, Beyoncé to ‘Love on Louisiana’ Nov 20 in Baton Rouge

    Holiday event aims to raise $1 million for Louisiana flood relief


    The state of Louisiana is set to receive much needed relief following August’s devastating flood.  Tina Knowles-Lawson, Solange Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé  will partner with Essence to raise $1 million for those affected by the flood in Baton Rouge.

    On Sunday, November 20, they will host Love on Louisiana: An Essence Hometown Heroes Tribute celebrating the resilience of the Baton Rouge community.

    “Louisiana is a special place in my family’s history and we are committed as a family to never forget the city and the people of Baton Rouge,” said Tina Knowles-Lawson. “It breaks my heart to see the unimaginable disaster and destruction caused by the flooding, and we will stand and support every effort in place to help the people most affected.”

    The holiday dinner and awards ceremony, set at Raising Cane’s River Center, will honor standout students and teachers for their commitment to serving and rebuilding their communities. With support from the City of Baton Rouge and the State of Louisiana, the event will serve as a call to action to raise $1 million to help families recover in the wake of this summer’s catastrophic flooding, which produced seven trillion gallons of water—three times the rainfall total of Hurricane Katrina.

    In addition to the award recognition, gift baskets containing donated goods will be distributed to students, teachers and families who are still largely affected by the severe flooding. The event will also galvanize citizens from around the world to support Louisiana by donating here to fund new homes for local families via Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge.

    “I extend my deepest appreciation to Ms. Tina Lawson, Essence and Time Inc. for their commitment to helping the people of Louisiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The Essence family has a long and rich history with our state and the ‘Love on Louisiana Tribute,’ which celebrates the strength of our families and students, is especially meaningful. This is the time of year when families, friends and communities come together. Our people have endured many setbacks over the last several months, but they are resilient and determined to come back stronger. But we cannot do it alone and that is why it is so gratifying to know that you support us and that your hearts are with Louisiana.”

    “Baton Rouge is especially proud to host this event that not only recognizes students and teachers who have contributed to rebuilding our community, but will also raise much needed funds to help families recover,” said Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden. “The power that these amazing sponsors bring to this event means it will be a tremendous success, and they have our deepest appreciation.”

    Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #LoveOnLouisiana and by directing supporters to donate here. Follow Essence on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more.

    Read more »
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    Louisiana flood victims adjust to living in FEMA housing units

    FEMA Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs) are property of the government, and all occupants living in them must follow certain guidelines for their own protection and the protection of their property. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding these guidelines.

    Q: I just moved into my FEMA MHU. Is there anything I need to pay for?  

    A: If your MHU is located on your property, you are responsible for paying all utility charges, including deposits and any other administrative fees. You are also responsible for any charges associated with the installation or usage of phone lines, cable and/or internet. If your MHU is on a group or commercial site, you do not have to pay for utilities, but you may still be responsible for phone, cable, and/or internet charges.

    Q: I want cable and internet in my MHU. How should I get them installed?

    A: You can start by calling your preferred provider to see if they install cable and internet in mobile homes. If they do, then they are authorized to drill holes necessary for running cable in accordance with their normal installation procedure. If your provider charges an installation fee, you are responsible for paying it.

    Q: Can my cable provider install a satellite dish or receiver on my MHU?

    A: Satellite dishes and receivers cannot be installed on your MHU. Your provider must install the dish or receiver using a separate, temporary pole. You are responsible for any additional fees associated with the installation.

    Q: Does my MHU come with a security system?

    A: FEMA MHUs do not come equipped with a security system. If you need a security system installed, you must contact FEMA for written approval prior to obtaining your MHU.

    NOTE: Smoking is not allowed in FEMA manufactured housing.

    Q: Can I paint my MHU or hang picture frames?

    A: You cannot paint or otherwise alter the interior or exterior appearance of your MHU. However, you are allowed to make small adjustments that would qualify as normal wear-and-tear, such as putting small nails in the wall to hang picture frames.

    Q: Can I landscape around my MHU?

    A: If your MHU is on your property, you can landscape around it. If your MHU is on a group or commercial site, or if it extends into a property you do not own, you must contact FEMA for written approval prior to landscaping.

    Q: Who can stay with me in my MHU?

    A: Anyone named in your FEMA license agreement can stay in your MHU with you. With FEMA’s approval, you may be able to add or remove occupants from your license agreement within seven days of signing.

    Q: Can I keep my pets in my MHU?

    A: You can keep up to two domesticated animals in your MHU. They must wear ID tags at all times and be up to date on their shots. Pets cannot be left unattended outside of the unit and must be leashed at all times. No pens or kennels are allowed outside of the MHU. You are responsible for cleaning up after your pet, both inside and outside of your MHU.

    Q: Are any items or substances prohibited in my MHU? 

    A: Any items or substances related to illegal or criminal activity are prohibited in your MHU. Additionally, you cannot store or use grills, fire pits, fireworks, propane tanks or other combustible substances inside or outside of your MHU.

    Q: What happens if I lose power to my MHU, or if one of my appliances stops working?

    A: If you lose power, cable or internet to your MHU, call your provider for assistance. If there is an issue with your MHU or its appliances, contact FEMA for assistance.

    Q: Will I get a washer and dryer?

    A: While washers and dryers can be hooked in to your MHU, you will have to purchase or provide the appliances yourself.

    Q: Do I have any other responsibilities regarding my MHU?

    A: Part of the FEMA license agreement for your MHU requires you to search for long-term housing options. While you may be able to recertify for your MHU beyond the dates originally specified in your license agreement, you may need to surrender your MHU back to FEMA if other long-term housing is available.

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  • Flood survivors may be eligible for lodging expense reimbursement

    Flood survivors who have registered with FEMA may be eligible for reimbursement if they had to pay out-of-pocket for temporary lodging because of flood damage to their primary residence.

    You may be eligible for lodging expense reimbursement if you:

    • register with FEMA;
    • pass identity verification;
    • verify occupancy in a primary residence within a declared parish;
    • verify that their primary residence is uninhabitable or inaccessible;
    • incurred disaster-related temporary lodging expenses on or after the incident period start date — in this case, Aug. 12;
    • do not have insurance that would cover lodging and therefore duplicate benefits; and
    • did not receive lodging assistance during the same time period.

    Reimbursement funds are available for eligible applicants up to the maximum amount of financial assistance — $33,000 — available through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. Applicants who have already received the maximum grant available will not be eligible for lodging expense reimbursement.

    Survivors who are approved for lodging expense reimbursement must submit zero balance receipts to FEMA in order to receive payment. Reimbursement will not cover incidental costs such as phone calls, laundry, internet, pay-per-view, food, or pet care.

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    EBR residents asked to report debris collection needs

    Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden is asking residents for help in identifying where debris still needs to be collected following the devastating flooding of August 2016.

    Any residents whose flood debris is currently placed curbside and in need of collection should contact the City-Parish by completing a web-based form the Department of Information Services – GIS Division has established specifically for these remaining debris collection needs. The form, located at http://gis.brla.gov/reportdebris, allows residents to easily report their address, contact information, type of debris in need of collection, and – if available – attach a photo of the debris pile so that responding crews know exactly where to go and what to expect when they arrive.

    Residents can also call 1-888-721-4372 with their address, contact information, and a description of the debris that has yet to be collected.

    In an effort to most efficiently direct debris removal trucks and resources throughout impacted areas, City-Parish officials are asking residents to only place flood debris curbside and to do so in separate piles according to the type(s) of debris needing collection. Any construction or re-construction materials should be disposed of by the contractor performing this work in accordance with the typical approved manner of disposal.

    Last week, debris removal operations officially moved into their second phase, which now involve more targeted flood debris collection passes based on any debris known to have not been collected during the first phase of operations. Nearly 1.6 million cubic yards of flood debris have been collected since efforts first began August 20, which continues to serve as one of the largest ever flood debris removal efforts of its kind.

    Residents interested in tracking the progress of these efforts can go online to access a web-based, interactive map identifying areas where debris is picked up during this second phase of operations. This map, updated daily, can be accessed by clicking the following link: http://gis.brla.gov/debris

     

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    Second month of disaster food assistance to be released by Oct. 18

    Acknowledging the severity of Louisiana’s flooding in 11 hardest-hit parishes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service granted the state’s request for an additional month Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ( D-SNAP) benefits for households that were issued benefits in August in Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Livingston, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, Tangipahoa, Vermilion and West Feliciana parishes. Regular SNAP recipients in these parishes were also approved for a second month of supplemental benefits.

    “Two months after the devastating and historic floods across South Louisiana, there are tens of thousands of families in these parishes still trying to get back on their feet,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “We’re thankful that the federal government recognizes the need for additional assistance for those who are living in the hardest hit parishes. Our people are working hard every day to restore their lives, and it is critical that we continue to help them with some of the basic necessities. Another month of benefits will help ease some of their worries, and hopefully lessen their burdens as they continue to recover and rebuild.”

    D-SNAP recipients who were issued disaster EBT cards in response to the August floods in 11 affected parishes will have benefits automatically loaded no later than October 18. Anyone who needs to replace a lost card can visit a parish office in one of the 11 parishes listed below. SNAP recipients in these 11 affected parishes will receive the same supplemental benefits they received after the flood, if their household is not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household. These benefits will be automatically loaded on EBT cards as well. 

    D-SNAP is a 100 percent federally funded benefit program that provides food assistance for non-SNAP recipients who are eligible due to lost income or disaster-related damages. Additionally, the program sometimes provides extra assistance to existing SNAP recipients in disaster areas.

    In all, 122,000 households in 21 parishes received D-SNAP benefits in the weeks after the flood, for a total of $48.9 million in D-SNAP benefits issued initially. Regular SNAP households received another $30.9 million in disaster-related benefits. 

    For the 11 hardest-hit parishes receiving a second month of benefits, DCFS estimates 105,689 households will receive $42 million in D-SNAP benefits, and 72,002 ongoing SNAP households will receive $11 million in supplemental benefits. Recipients will have up to a full year to use their benefits, after which benefits will expire.

    “We’re pleased to be able to bring a second month of DSNAP to households in our hardest-hit parishes. Those with immediate and ongoing food needs who didn’t receive D-SNAP or who live outside these 11 parishes are encouraged to remember that D-SNAP isn’t the only solution. Food banks are specially equipped to respond to these types of circumstances. In addition, the regular SNAP program might be another solution, and we encourage those with ongoing food needs to consider applying,” DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said. 

    There are a number of programming and fraud-prevention steps DCFS must take before it can issue D-SNAP benefits. Because households cannot receive both D-SNAP and SNAP, the department will run duplicate participation checks to ensure none of the households receiving D-SNAP benefits have been certified for SNAP in Louisiana or the neighboring states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. 

    D-SNAP recipients in the eligible 11 parishes can obtain replacement disaster EBT cards at any of the following locations:

    • Acadia Parish Office – 300 E. First St., Crowley, LA 70526
    • Ascension Parish Office – 1078 E. Worthy Road, Gonzales, LA 70737
    • East Baton Rouge Parish Office – 1919 North Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806
    • Lafayette Parish Office – 825 Kaliste Saloom Road, Brandywine Complex VI, Lafayette, LA 70508
    • Livingston Parish Office – 28446 Charley Watts Road, Livingston, LA 70754
    • St. Landry Parish Office – 6069 I-49 S. Service Road, Opelousas, LA 70570
    • Tangipahoa Parish Office – 1211 NW Central Avenue, Amite, LA 70422

    For questions or additional information, visit the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov or contact the toll-free helpline at 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578).

    The D-SNAP program is designed and executed with safeguards in place to deter and detect fraud. The department will pursue prosecution, restitution, and disqualification of future benefits for anyone who fraudulently received aid. To report fraud, visitwww.dcfs.la.gov/ReportFraud or call 1-888-LA-HELPU (1-888-524-3578) and select option 7.

     

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  • Child abuse increases after natural disasters

    KIDLINE, 1-800-CHILDREN, a resource for stressed parents

    Research shows that rates of child abuse increase anywhere from three months to one year following a natural disaster, and Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana is encouraging parents suffering from additional stress post-flood to call KIDLINE, 1-800-CHILDREN, to speak with a trained counselor if they need support.

    KIDLINE is a toll-free, statewide helpline providing parenting information, crisis counseling, referrals to community resources, help for victims of child abuse and information on Louisiana’s Safe Haven Law. The line is currently available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, but will move to 24 hours in January 2017 and will also include web chat and phone text capabilities.

    “Natural disasters such as the recent flood we experienced cause us to lose not only our homes and cars, but also our routines and regular sources of support,” said Amanda Brunson, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana. “Add to that an increased feeling of powerlessness, and parents can become overwhelmed, which is why we want them to know that KIDLINE is a resource available to them.”

    Children are also experiencing more stress after the flood, but may not be able to verbally express it or process their emotions. This leads to reactions such as bed wetting, complaints of not feeling well and clinginess, which adds to a parent’s stress level and increases the risk of maltreatment.

    A study conducted in 2000 found that child physical, sexual and emotional abuse increased three, six and 11 months after Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina and the Loma Prieta Earthquake in California. Another study found that intentional child traumatic brain injuries increased in the six months after Hurricane Floyd in North Carolina.

    “Knowing this information, we want to start this conversation now, when we’re about two months out from the flood. We want parents to be aware of their own stress level and to take care of themselves, as well as take care of their children. And we’re calling on everyone in the community who didn’t flood to commit to watching out for their friends and neighbors who did,” said Brunson.

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    Private Property Debris Removal Program application deadline set for Oct. 7

    City-Parish officials are reminding eligible homeowners throughout East Baton Rouge Parish to apply for the City-Parish’s Private Property Debris Removal (PPDR) program ahead of the program’s application deadline, set for Friday, Oct. 7. The PPDR program provides residents affected by the recent flooding with extended curbside collection of flood-related debris removal services, provided the debris is placed within approximately 30 feet from the public right-of-way and the City-Parish has received a signed Right-of-Entry (ROE) agreement from the homeowner.

     

    Since launching Sept. 19, more than 1,150 homeowners have submitted ROE agreements in applying for the PPDR program, with extended curbside collection services for eligible residents currently underway in the following ZIP codes: 70805, 70811, 70817, 70814, and 70819. As the program moves forward and additional ROEs are received, PPDR crews will be moving into other ZIP codes and impacted areas based on where these extended curbside services are needed. 

     

    Residents interested in applying for this program and these extended curbside flood-related debris removal services can do so online by downloading an ROE form – located at www.brgov.com/roe – and emailing their completed ROE form along with a valid Louisiana ID or driver’s license toBRdebris@thompsoncs.net, or in-person by visiting one of the active PPDR intake centers below prior to the Friday deadline and during the listed hours of operation:

     

    ·        PPDR Primary Application Center – Cypress Building, 10201 Celtic Drive, Suite B

    Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    ·        Jones Creek Branch Library – 6222 Jones Creek Road

    Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    ·        Fairwood Branch Library – 12910 Old Hammond Highway

    Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

     

    Residents in need of support or assistance related to the PPDR program who are unable to visit one of these PPDR intake centers are encouraged to contact program representatives directly by dialing 1-888-721-4372. These same program representatives are available to meet individually with homeowners as necessary and upon request to discuss the program and assist residents in completing their ROE.

     

    As a reminder, City-Parish crews are only able to collect debris from residential properties located in the City of Baton Rouge and unincorporated areas of East Baton Rouge Parish. City of Baker, Central and Zachary residents should contact their local municipality for information on their local debris removal program. Residents in need of extended curbside debris collection who are renters, members of a homeowner’s association, or live in a private community should contact their landlord, homeowner’s association president, or landowner to request that they complete a ROE form for the property in need of debris removal.

     

    For more information or questions about the PPDR program, please contact 1-888-721-4372 or emailBRdebris@thompsoncs.net.

     

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  • Smithsonian experts to share tips on salvaging family treasures

    Flood survivors can learn how to salvage their treasures directly from Smithsonian Institution preservation experts on Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24, at two Disaster Recovery Centers. The experts will demonstrate how to handle, dry and clean damaged objects and share tips on personal safety, setting priorities and other preservation options.

    For example, photographs can be rinsed gently in clean water and air-dried on a plastic screen or paper towel. They can also be hung with plastic clothespins. It is important the image not come in contact with other surfaces as it dries. Many items can be air-dried – preferably indoors. However, high direct heat from hair dryers and irons or prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause irreversible damage. A better choice is to increase airflow with fans, open windows, air conditioners and dehumidifiers.

    The sessions will be:
    Friday, September 23
    Lafayette Parish
    Lafayette Disaster Recovery Center
    301 West University Avenue
    Lafayette
    10am – 5pm

    Saturday, September 24
    East Baton Rouge Parish
    Celtic Disaster Recovery Center
    10000 Celtic Drive
    Baton Rouge
    10am – 5pm

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  • ,

    Online resources increase for flood survivors

    imagesPublic and private entities have information online ready to help if you’re a survivor of Louisiana’s recent severe storms and floods. Here is a listing of many online resources available to disaster survivors.

    Clothing, Food, Shelter, etc.
    2-1-1 is a single access point for resources like food, clothing, shelter, financial assistance and health resources. Visit www.louisiana211.org and follow @211Louisiana on Twitter.

    Wage or work issues
    The Workplace Justice Project / Wage Claim Clinic out of New Orleans is available to assist anyone with wage or work issues relating to the flooding, including workers who did not receive pay because of flooding and resulting business closures or other wage claims or other issues arise in the weeks and months of recovery. We are working with state and federal agencies to handle claims as efficiently as possible. Call the clinic at 504-861-5571, email  wjpnola@gmail.com, or check the website www.wjpnola.org.

    Situational awareness in Louisiana
    The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) contains links to disaster planning guides and situation updates at gohsep.la.gov.  You can also get emergency news at emergency.louisiana.gov and the governor’s website at gov.la.gov.

    FEMA
    Access FEMA’s website for the recent severe storms and floods at www.FEMA.gov/disaster/4277. It has the latest news and information on the disaster in Louisiana. Also, ‘like’ the FEMA Facebook page and follow @FEMAregion6 on Twitter.

    Also, www.DisasterAssistance.gov  has links for survivors to register and update your contact information, community resources, government directories and alerts. You may also call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. If you who use TTY may call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

    U.S. Small Business Administration
    Low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are the largest source of federal disaster funding for businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters. Learn more at www.sba.gov/disaster.

    Disaster Recovery Centers
    Get answers to your disaster assistance questions at a Louisiana DRC. Go online to find your closest center at fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers.

    Volunteers and Donation
    Volunteer and donation opportunities are available at volunteerlouisiana.gov. You may email 2016FloodDonations@gmail.com to coordinate donations.

    Parish contact information
    Your parish leaders may be able to give information on how to dispose debris properly and provide information to assist your recovery. Get their contact information online at gohsep.la.gov/about/parishpa.

    Transitional Shelter Assistance hotels
    Find hotels that participate in TSA at femaevachotels.com. You may also find participating hotels by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. If you who use TTY may call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

    Rental resources
    Find available rental resources that are participating in FEMA’s rental assistance program by going to FEMA’s housing portal at asd.fema.gov/inter/hportal/home.htm. The list is routinely updated.

    Insurance contact information
    Get your company’s contact information online at the Louisiana Department of Insurance: www.ldi.la.gov/onlineservices/ActiveCompanySearch.

    National Flood Insurance Program
    Learn more about flood insurance at www.floodsmart.gov. Contact your insurance company to start a claim. Get your company’s contact information online at the Louisiana Department of Insurance: www.ldi.la.gov/onlineservices/ActiveCompanySearch.

    If you have flood insurance questions call 800-621-3362 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and select option 2. Call center staff are available to assist with information regarding your policy, offer technical flood guidance to aid in recovery and answer other flood insurance questions. You can be transferred to your insurance carrier for additional assistance if you have further questions. If you use TTY may call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

    Repair, rebuilding and clean up information
    Get repair and rebuilding tips at fema.gov/louisiana-disaster-mitigation. Get information about mucking out your property at crisiscleanup.org or call 800-451-1954.

    • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; 1-800-451-1954
    • Mennonite Disaster Service; (330) 473-5956
    •  Habitat for Humanity; (225) 927-6651
    • First Baptist Association of Southeast Louisiana; 1-877-487-4658 (assistance for all areas); 318-541-1398 Livingston Parish; 225-295-0775 Baton Rouge Area- Istrouma Baptist Church;  225-261-3434 Central Area Zoar Baptist Church
    • St. Bernard Project; 504-277-6831; www.sbpusa.org
    • Austin Disaster Relief; 512-806-0800; www.adrntx.org
    • Operation Blessing; 225-753-2273
    • Healing Place Church at 569 Florida Ave SW Denham Springs 70726; www.healingplacechurch.org
    • Rotary Foundation for building supplies, appliances, furniture; 337 237-0628
    • Cajun Army; www.thecajunarmy.com
    • The Multi-Family Lease and Repair Program (MLRP) may provide funds to make your rental units habitable again in order to lease them to provide temporary housing to eligible FEMA applicants.
      • Repairs or improvements do not need to be storm- or flood-related.
      • You may choose your own contractor after you’ve agreed with repair costs with FEMA. FEMA is interested in working with Louisiana property owners in hard-hit communities with a lack of housing. Call 225-382-1464 or email fema-ia-dhops@fema.dhs.gov if you’re a property owner interested in repairing your rental property and assisting disaster survivors.

    Food assistance
    Go online to www.foodpantries.org/st/louisiana to see a database a statewide food banks.

    General health and welfare
    The Department of Health and Hospitals has health information at dhh.louisiana.gov. Search for “CDC” on Facebook and follow @CDCEmergency on Twitter for information from the Centers for Disease Control. The hotline for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is 800-321-OSHA (6742).

    Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Inc., also located at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road Baton Rouge, will provide medical care to flood survivors during normal weekday hours, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Flood survivors who are unable to contact their regular physicians or lack transportation can be seen at the medical clinic.

    Mental health services
    The Louisiana Directory of Mental Health Services is online at new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/97/n/116. For children and youth services, call the state health department at 225-342-9500 or visit the Children’s Special Health Services website at dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/740  for information or to apply for services for developmentally disabled children.

    UnitedHealthcare Healing Together Initiative will host weekly Healing Together Recovery Workshops at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road every Tuesday during the month of September (6, 13, 20, 27), 11:00am-12:00 noon. The workshops are designed to provide a holistic road map to recovering from the challenging and often devastating effects of the Great Flood. T

    Children
    Contact your local school district if you have not been able to enroll your child in school in the town where you are currently living, or if you have not been able to return to your home school district. Find contact information to your schoolboard at www.lsba.com/PageDisplay.asp?p1=798.

    Family Road is now providing women, infant, and children items to those individuals and families impacted by 2016 floods. If you are need of assistance you can call Family Road at (225) 201-8888, or visit 323 East Airport Avenue between the hours of 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Be prepared to provide: DSNAP card, SNAP card, ID/Driver’s License or other proof of residence (i.e. flooded area).

    Child care service is now available for Louisiana survivors while they are visiting the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at Celtic Studios, 10000 Celtic Drive in Baton Rouge, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Monday through Sunday. )Parents of children ages 3-12 may use the free child care service while they conduct business at the Disaster Recovery Center. The child care service is not a day care and children cannot be left at the Disaster Recovery Center. The child care service is provided by volunteers of Children’s Disaster Services, a ministry of the Church of the Brethren. All child care volunteers are trained in a 27-hour workshop. The child care service is offered in a secure location at the Disaster Recovery Center. Upon check in, a parent is given a numbered badge that is identical to one placed on his or her child. This badging process ensures that only the child’s parent can check the child out of the care service.

    Senior citizens
    Louisiana Aging Services administers federal and state-run services for senior citizens. It also oversees the Area Agencies of Aging in each parish, which develop coordinated community-based systems. Visit new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/subhome/12/n/7 or call the Aging and Adult Services Helpline at 866-758-5035.

    Persons with disabilities or access and functional needs
    Louisiana has several agencies that deal with different groups of people who are disabled or have access and functional needs. To learn more, visit the Department of Health and Hospitals online at dhh.louisiana.gov or the

    Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network at latan.org/index.php/programs-services/emergency-preparedness/23-emergency-preparedness/27-emergency-preparedness-program.html.

    Environmental health
    The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provides documents and resources in English, Spanish and Vietnamese that address emergency preparedness in hurricane and flood situations. Links are at tools.niehs.nih.gov/wetp/index.cfm?id=2472.

    The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has a resource page www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal with fact sheets and information on environmental issues, including disaster debris management. The Environmental Protection Agency’s website, www.epa.gov, has a section on water issues. Find “EPA” on Facebook, follow @EPAgov on Twitter or call 888-283-7626.

    Legal services
    Louisiana Legal Services provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents. Visit them at louisianalawhelp.org.

    The Disaster Recovery Law Clinic at the Southern University Law Center helps clients file and register with FEMA and other government aide groups, as well as assisting with insurance claims and applying for public benefits. The Clinic operates weekdays, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Appointments are encouraged to help ensure quality assistance. Call (225) 771-3333 or come into the clinic office located at the Southern University Law Center, 2 Roosevelt Steptoe Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70813.

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  • SU Ag Center partners with Red Cross to offer after-school program

    Roughly two days into the start of a new school year, classes were abruptly canceled from what many south Louisiana natives are calling, “One of the worst natural disasters in Louisiana’s history.”  As the Great Flood of 2016 vastly inundated many homes throughout St. Helena Parish, some residents are faced with a new reality of temporarily living in a shelter.  A local Red Cross representative stated that there are no immediate plans to move flood victims from the Multi-purpose Center that sits right on the Tangipahoa Parish line, but is in St. Helena Parish’s Fifth District.  The representative also stated that they have explored the option of hotel vouchers, but did not want to create other obstacles for those who do not have access to transportation to get to work and school.

    The shelters population consist of youth who will undoubtedly begin to have homework, and could potentially have other stressors due to their lack of resources or homelessness.  Through the use of the Southern University Ag Center’s Youth Educational Support Program (Y.E.S.), displaced families can be assured that the SU Ag Center has Youth Development Agents to meet their educational needs.

    “I’ve actually been in talks with police jurors and school board officials prior to the natural disaster about starting an after-school program at the multi-purpose center…Under these extenuating circumstances the YES Program can definitely address some of the immediate needs, like assisting with homework and providing ancillary activities to keep their minds off their temporary living arrangement,” said Nicolette Gordon, assistant area agent.

    Gordon will conduct a needs assessment, and will begin building a team of volunteers who will help throughout the duration of the temporary after-school program.

    For more information on volunteer opportunities, please contact Nicolette Gordon in the St. Helena Parish Extension office on Tuesday & Thursday at 225.222.4136 or via email at nicolette_gordon@suagcenter.com.

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  • ,

    Flood victims encouraged to pre-register for DSNAP benefits

    The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is encouraging those who have experienced loss or damage in the severe storms and flooding to pre-register for benefits under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

    DCFS is preparing a DSNAP application for parishes included in the initial federal disaster declaration for the State of Louisiana. Those parishes currently include East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa – although the list is expected to grow rapidly.

    DSNAP, formerly called Disaster Food Stamps, provides food assistance to eligible households who do not receive regular SNAP benefits and who need help buying groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster. The state must request that the federal government initiate DSNAP, but can only make the request after the president activates the Stafford Act and approves the parish for In

    dividual Assistance.

    After the state makes its request, it is expected that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services will respond quickly. In the meantime, DCFS is preparing potential DSNAP application sites and encouraging impacted residents to pre-register for benefits either online or by phone.

    The best way to pre-register is online at www.dcfs.la.gov/preregister. However, residents can also pre-register by phone beginning tomorrow, August 16, at 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) daily between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Callers will select the appropriate language and then select options 3 and 3. All pre-registrants will have to provide the following information:

    • Name, Social Security Number and Date of Birth for each household member 
    • Current address and parish of household 
    • Monthly income for each household member 
    • All liquid assets for each household member (cash on hand, checking, savings)

    The information will be kept securely on file and will be confidential.

    The pre-registration process does not guarantee benefits, but is designed to save time, minimize long lines and prevent applicants from coming to the site only to find out that they do not have the right information needed to apply.

    Residents who are already pre-registered for DSNAP do not need to pre-register again. If the state’s DSNAP request is approved, residents who live in an eligible parish and have pre-registered must still visit a DSNAP application site to verify their information and identity to determine final eligibility and receive benefit cards, if eligible.

    Households that receive regular SNAP benefits and live in parishes where DSNAP is activated DO NOT have to visit a DSNAP site to receive supplemental benefits. These households that receive regular SNAP benefits and live in parishes where DSNAP is activated will automatically have supplemental benefits added to their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards if they are not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household size. 

    As with all programs, DCFS works to ensure this program and others are available for eligible applicants by aggressively protecting against fraud in benefits programs year round. Strong safeguards are in place to ensure that only eligible citizens receive DSNAP benefits, to identify those who are dishonest about their eligibility and to pursue recoupment and/or prosecution.

     


     


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