FEMA addresses food reimbursement and housing assistance

State News

BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) $132 million from FEMA are now in the hands of families with damaged homes from Hurricane Ida. Many people have questions about reimbursements for food and hotels.

Tony Tirante was extremely happy when power was restored to his Baton Rouge home following the storm.

“I was elated absolutely elated. I certainly empathize with all the people that don’t have power or air conditioning to this day,” said Tirante.

He went three and half days without electricity, losing about $500 worth of food.

“We lost all the contents in our refrigerator and freezer,” said Tirante, who applied for assistance from FEMA but he was denied.

“They basically told me because I had no structural damage and did not show any damage or claim any damage or claim any hotel expenses. They couldn’t help me,” said Tirante.

FEMA spokesman Nate Custer said, “We don’t reimburse for lost groceries or for food spoiled in the refrigerator for a power loss.”

The agency is providing help with the Rental Assistance Program.

“It’s a temporary move to put people who are not able to stay in their house because of the extent of damage. FEMA will put together accommodations for rental properties.”

The Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program helps those who evacuated, staying in hotels and can show a critical need.

“FEMA decides who qualifies based on their registration. You can’t apply directly and say I want a hotel reimbursement. Every case is really different. We look at them based on the need of that individual or that household,” said Custer.

If you’re denied assistance, you can appeal that decision. Custer said sometimes rejection is because of missing documents.

“If you have insurance, maybe the insurance claim has not been settled yet. We do not duplicate insurance amounts,” said Custer.

Tirante is now waiting to see if he can recover his losses through his homeowner’s insurance, but he’s not banking on it.

“Looking at my policy when I tried to it’s not going to meet the deductible. The deductible is going to come first,” said Tirante.

To apply for assistance, call 1-800-621-3362 or online disasterassistance.gov.

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