‘Blue tarps’ for homeowners? Federal officials reviewing need for temporary roofs | Baton Rouge

Federal officials said Tuesday they are assessing roof damage from Hurricane Ida before deciding whether to offer free “blue tarps” to homeowners until permanent home repairs are made.

Experts from the US Army Corps of Engineers examine roofs damaged as the storm roared ashore on Sunday, damaging and destroying property in Southeast Louisiana and leaving much of the region without power indefinitely.

The assessments are being made on behalf of the state of Louisiana and FEMA, said Debra J. Young, assistant external relations officer for FEMA.

The official name of the program is Operation Blue Roof Temporary Roof mission.

Unofficially, they are known as “blue sails,” and the sails dotted the landscape after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 and Hurricane Rita made landfall in Lake Charles the same year.

The program provides homeowners and permanent tenants with free fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover damaged roofs until permanent repairs are completed.

After Hurricane Katrina, the Corps of Engineers oversaw Operation Blue Roof, hiring several companies to oversee hundreds of subcontractors installing tarps on leaking and damaged roofs across a vast swath of Louisiana and Mississippi.

The program was credited with preventing many homes from taking much greater damage from rainfall in the weeks and months after Katrina.

The Corps has made similar efforts after several other major hurricanes.

Meanwhile, FEMA and the Small Business Administration are providing assistance to individuals and businesses that suffered losses in Hurricane Ida.

Governor John Bel Edwards said earlier this week that more than 18,000 people have applied for FEMA assistance.

Those in the 25 affected parishes can apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or via the FEMA mobile app.

FEMA assistance cannot help losses already covered by private insurance. FEMA stands for Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As Hurricane Ida leaves Southeast Louisiana, some Baton Rouge-area schools are holding campuses and in some cases moving to virtual classrooms.

The parishes are Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana.

Information needed by applicants for both FEMA and the SBA is a current phone number, address at the time of the disaster, social security number, a general list of damages and losses and, if insured, the policy number or agent and company name.

Assistance may include financial aid for temporary housing and home repairs.

FEMA can assist in the repair or replacement of damaged heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; refrigerators; stoves; electric; sanitary and gas installations.

Also repairs to calamity-related leaks in a roof, ceiling damage and electrical components, such as skylights.

FEMA help can be used to repair a disaster-related subfloor in occupied areas of the home, but not for tile or carpet.

The agency can also help with disaster-related broken windows, but not blinds or curtains.

Grants awarded must keep receipts for three years to show how the money has been used.

The US Small Business Administration said low-interest federal disaster loans are available to businesses and residents of the same 25 parishes.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed property.

Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed property, machinery, inventory, and other assets.

Interest rates start at 2.855% for businesses, 2% for private nonprofits, and 1.563% for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.

The terms are set by the SBA and are based on the applicant’s financial condition.

The SBA is also establishing a virtual outreach center to assist homeowners and renters, with customer service representatives available to business owners and homeowners to answer questions.

The center operates Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time at [email protected] or 1-800-659-2955.

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