Officials discuss FEMA homes, SBA loan deadline at Watson town hall

Officials discuss FEMA homes, SBA loan deadline at Watson town hall

WATSON, LA (WAFB) - State Rep. Valarie Hodges hosted a town hall for residents in Watson Tuesday night, featuring representatives from FEMA, SBA and other local and state agencies.

Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks said one of his biggest concerns is getting FEMA to install their manufactured housing units faster.

"School has started back this week so they want to be in their driveways, they want to be next to their property, protect their assets, work on their homes in the evening," Ricks said. "Some sort of normalcy."

While FEMA and many local officials have loosened restrictions on where the mobile homes can be placed, FEMA spokesman Ray Perez admits the process is slow. In Livingston Parish, officials agreed to waive the restriction against placing the homes in flood zones.

"They have to be placed safely, they have to be connected to electricity, that for many people will be a solution but it's not something that we can just put 2,000 homes in a week," Perez said.

Both Perez and Ricks urged patience during the long recovery process.

Meanwhile, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reminded homeowners the deadline to apply for a disaster assistance loan is October 13.

The SBA can loan up to $200,000 dollars for homeowners to make repairs or find a new home, and up to $40,000 for renters.

"I know a lot of people don't want a loan, but this is a step in the process. We may be able to refer you back to FEMA if you don't qualify for an SBA loan. And if you do, you have a year to decide if you want to use it or not," said SBA spokeswoman Cynthia Cowell.

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