Published 3:25 pm Saturday, September 12, 2020

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BATON ROUGE, La. – More than 28,000 Louisiana households have been approved for FEMA grants to help them recover from damage caused by Hurricane Laura from Aug. 22-27.

It is important to remember that the funds are to be used only for certain disaster-related expenses. FEMA may audit survivors to confirm they spent grants for basic home repairs, replacing essential household items or paying for somewhere to stay if they cannot return home.

FEMA sends survivors letters that detail approved uses for grants. These may include:

• Repairs to make a home habitable

• Rental assistance to temporarily pay for a place to stay

• Repair or replacement of a disaster-damaged essential vehicle

• Medical care for an injury caused by the disaster

• Replacing clothing, occupational tools and educational materials

• Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster

Rental assistance grants are provided for temporary housing when a disaster leaves your home uninhabitable or inaccessible.

Disaster grants should not be used for travel, entertainment, regular living expenses or any discretionary expenses not related to the disaster. Survivors should keep receipts for three years to show how they spent FEMA grants.

If grant money is not used as outlined in the letter, you may have to repay FEMA and you could lose eligibility for further federal assistance that could become available.

Survivors in Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, Vermilion, Vernon and Winn parishes have until Tuesday, Oct. 27 to apply for federal disaster help.

Register for assistance in one of three ways:

• Online by logging onto DisasterAssistance.gov

• The FEMA app. Visit: fema.gov/mobile-app or your phone’s app store.

• Call 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Toll-free numbers are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Multilingual operators are available.

Part of the FEMA disaster assistance registration process includes providing a call back phone number for FEMA to contact you to set up a home inspection for damages caused by the disaster and other helpline information. It is strongly recommended if using a relay service, such as your videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel, you provide your specific number assigned to that service. It is important that FEMA is able to contact you, and you should be aware phone calls from FEMA may come from an unidentified number.