Assistance for employees, businesses, farmers impacted by floodi - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Assistance for employees, businesses, farmers impacted by flooding

Luckett Farms (Source: WAFB) Luckett Farms (Source: WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

Many resources are available for employees, businesses (small and large) and farmers that were impacted by flooding in Louisiana.

With many struggling to recover, the State of Louisiana is providing information on housing assistance, SBA disaster loans, and local Business Recovery Centers on OpportunityLouisiana.com

EMPLOYEES:

DISASTER UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE: The Louisiana Workforce Commission is extending the disaster unemployment assistance (DUA) application period to October 14, 2016 for individuals affected by the August 2016 flooding. 

Included in this uniform application period will be the parishes of Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermillion, Washington, and West Feliciana making DUA available to workers and self-employed individuals who lost work or earnings as a result of flooding that began August 11, 2016 and continues. 

LWC staff members will answer calls made to 1-866-783-5567 and assist individuals file for DUA from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. until further notice. Individuals can also file claims online at www.laworks.net through the LWC’s HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) portal. 

Individuals affected in these designated-disaster areas must file DUA applications by established deadlines. DUA is available to those who:

  • Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment;
  • Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage of destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster;
  • Can establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their principal source of income; 
  • Do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits from any state;
  • Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster or
  • Became the breadwinner or major support of a household because of the death of the head of household. 

DUA is available from weeks of unemployment beginning August 14, 2016 and up to February 18, 2017, as long as the individual’s unemployment continues to be a result of the disaster. 

LSU EMPLOYEE/STUDENT ASSISTANCE FUND: 

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has established the LSU Employee Assistance Fund and the Student Disaster Relief Fund. Both sites are accessible through http://lsu.edu/floodrelief. LSU has an established food pantry and laundry service and also provided complimentary dinner service courtesy of LSU Dining/Chartwells. 

BUSINESSES: 

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION RECOVERY CENTERS: The U.S. Small Business Administration, Louisiana Economic Development and Louisiana Small Business Development Centers is opening Business Recovery Centers to provide a wide range of services to businesses impacted by the severe storms and flooding. No appointment is necessary. All services are provided free of charge. 

  • Amite: Amite Chamber of Commerce, 101 SE Central Ave., Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Baker: Baker Workforce Development Center, 3262 Baker Blvd., Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane (near I-12), Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Clinton: Gym at the Early Learning Center, 9414 Plank Rd., Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Lafayette: Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) Executive Conference Room, 537 Cajundome Blvd., Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Livingston Parish: Arts Council of Livingston Parish, 133 N. Hummell St, Denham Springs, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Prairieville: BancorpSouth Bank, 13423 Louisiana 73, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Walker: Southeastern Louisiana University Literacy and Technology Center, Room 101, 9261 Florida Blvd., Walker, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Business owners may also apply online using SBA's secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or get help from SBA representatives at any disaster recovery center in Louisiana. Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA's Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955 or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. For more disaster assistance information or to download applications, visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

RELATED: SBA approves nearly 900 low-interest disaster loans

STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE: The State Fire Marshal’s Office has established the following guidelines to assist businesses by facilitating the submission of required documentation prior to reopening. These guidelines will remain in effect until November 30, 2016.

  • State law requires that repairs of commercial structures that affect exits, stairs, seating arrangements, fire detection and suppression systems, or other details of construction must be submitted to the State Fire Marshal’s Office for review.
  • For businesses that received flood damage below four (4) feet from a finished floor and where the repair and replacement of materials and components are to be accomplished without alterations, there is no requirement to submit plans for review. However, if fire-rated construction, such as walls and doors, has been affected, business owners are to call the State Fire Marshal’s Office to schedule an inspection after repairs are completed.
  • If electrical systems or equipment have been compromised, owners are encouraged to contact their local permitting office for an inspection before restoring electricity to the building. In areas where there may be no permitting authorities, owners should have an inspection conducted by licensed electricians.
  • For repairs to businesses that suffered direct flood damage above four (4) feet, or where alterations to the existing structure are proposed, owners are required to submit plans to the State Fire Marshal’s Office for review. This can be accomplished online at www.lasfm.org. Click on “OSFM-IMS” button in the introduction box.

Once received, reviewers will issue a response within 24 hours of receipt of the plans. In the event of unforeseen issues with the submittal, business owners may seek a permit from a local permitting office to begin construction at their own risk. Owners will be required to correct any deficiencies a review may find.

There will be no charge for review services or inspections to flood-affected businesses.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office further establishes that temporary use of an existing building where a change is proposed will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and an inspection by the State Fire Marshal’s Office will be required to determine if the proposed use is acceptable. Owners can call the office at 1-800-256-5452 to schedule an inspection.

In businesses where an existing fire detection and/or suppression system has been compromised or damaged by the flood, a contractor licensed through the Fire Marshal’s Office must inspect and/or repair the system prior to the business being allowed to open. The contractor will need to submit plans to the Fire Marshal’s Office, which can be done online as stated above, with a response expected within 24 hours of submission. However, if a response is delayed, the contractor can begin work with the owner assuming all risks. Again, any deficiency found during the review process will need to be corrected before the business opens.

For portable and/or modular industrialized buildings, only those buildings provided by properly registered manufacturers and dealers that contain a state-issued decal will be considered for use. Please note that manufactured (mobile) homes or similar structures for residential use are not acceptable for commercial use.

Full compliance with the Life Safety Code and referenced standards is expected in all repairs and/or remodeling.

CHURCHES/VOLUNTEERS/NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS:

FEMA: Community, volunteer, faith-based and private nonprofit organizations that had damage from Louisiana’s recent severe storms and floods may be able to receive FEMA Public Assistance (PA) grants to repair or replace their facilities so they can continue offering critical and essential community services.

Critical community service organizations that may qualify for FEMA PA grants include:

  • Faith-based and private schools
  • Hospitals and other medical-treatment facilities
  • Utilities like water, sewer and electrical systems

Non-critical, essential service organizations may also receive PA grants. However, they must first apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) before they may be considered for a PA grant.

The SBA may provide up to $2 million to most private nonprofits in the form of low-interest disaster loans.

  • Learn more about and apply for an SBA loan by going online to sba.gov/disaster. If you cannot access the website, call 800-659-2955. If you use TTY call 800-877-8339.
  • PA grants may be able to cover repair or replacement costs the SBA doesn’t.

Non-critical, essential service organizations include:

  • Community centers
  • Daycare centers
  • Disability advocacy and service providers
  • Homeless shelters
  • Museums
  • Performing arts centers
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Senior citizen centers
  • Zoos

Only organizations that can prove state or IRS tax exempt status may be considered. Facilities established or primarily used for religious activities may not be considered.

The first step to receive a FEMA PA grant for your community, volunteer or faith-based or private nonprofit organization is to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to the State of Louisiana. The RPA deadline is Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Find RPA forms online at louisianapa.com/site/resources.cfm.

For more information on applying for PA grants, contact your parish’s emergency management office. You can find their contact information online at gohsep.la.gov/about/parishpa.

FARMERS: 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs that provide assistance before, during, and after disasters. The USDA encourages Louisiana residents to contact the following offices to meet their individual needs:

Property and Shelter

When floods destroy or severely damage residential property, USDA Rural Development can assist with providing priority hardship application processing for single family housing. More information can be found on the Rural Development website or by contacting the State Office located at 3727 Government Street, Alexandria, LA 71302, or by calling (318) 473-7920 or (866) 481-9571.

Food Assistance and Food Safety

Owners of meat and poultry producing businesses who have questions or concerns may contact the FSIS Small Plant Help Desk by phone at 1-877-FSIS-HELP (1-877-374-7435), by email at infosource@fsis.usda.gov, or 24/7 online at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/svsp/sphelpdesk

Crop and Livestock Loss

The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in parishes that received a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation also is available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. More information on all of these programs can be found at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn what documents can help the local office expedite assistance, such as farm records, receipts and pictures of damages or losses. FSA maintains contact information online for all Louisiana parish offices.

Producers should use form FSA-576, Notice of Loss, to report prevented planting and failed acres in order to establish or retain FSA program eligibility. Prevented planting acreage must be reported no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date as established by FSA and USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA). Producers must file a Notice of Loss for failed acres on all crops including grasses in a timely fashion, often within 15 days of the occurrence or when the losses become apparent. Producers of hand-harvested crops must notify FSA of damage or loss within 72 hours of when the date of damage or loss first becomes apparent.

Producers with coverage through the RMA administered federal crop insurance program should contact their crop insurance agent. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.

Community Recovery Resources

For declared natural disasters that lead to imminent threats to life and property, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can assist local government sponsors with the cost of implementing recovery efforts like debris removal and streambank stabilization to address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial assistance to repair and prevent excessive soil erosion that can result from high rainfall events and flooding. 

For Louisiana, the LSU AgCenter has flood recovery info available online that businesses, farmers and homeowners can use as resources for restoring water-damaged buildings and possessions. The information is available at the LSU AgCenter's Disaster Information

For complete details and eligibility requirements regarding USDA's disaster assistance programs, contact a local USDA Service Center. More information about USDA disaster assistance as well as other disaster resources is available on the USDA Disaster Resource Center website. 

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