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“Survivors are choosing to return back to their damaged homes,” FEMA rep Keith Jones said at a news briefing Wednesday. “We just want people to be aware and be safe.”

Jones noted that many areas still don’t have reliable power. “Those who decide to return should make sure they have adequate food, water, medications, bug repellent, batteries, cell phone chargers — everything you would need during a disaster.”

He said residents need to have 72 hours worth of essentials in order to be “self- reliant.” And if you are returning home to Calcasieu Parish, Jones urged residents to be careful when surveying their property. “Look for loose power lines, gas leaks, structural damage and, if you’re unsure, ask a qualified building inspector,” he said. For more information on what to look for when entering your home for the first-time post-storm, visit ready.gov/returning-home.

Jones reported that between Monday and Wednesday of this week, 1,217 Calcasieu residents have applied for FEMA disaster assistance for a total of 79,644 residents parish-wide. A total of $74.2 million has been paid out for individual housing in Calcasieu. The deadline to apply for FEMA federal disaster assistance is October 27. To register for FEMA federal disaster assistance, call 1-800-621-3362 or register online at disasterassistance.gov. For the hearing impaired, the phone number is 1-800-462-7585.

Once a resident has registered with FEMA, they will receive an email from the Small Business Administration. The SBA has distributed more than $28 million in low interest loans to date to assist Louisiana hurricane survivors. Residents do not have to be small business owners to qualify.

“Disaster relief is the only area (in which) the Small Business Administration deals directly with homeowners,” said Jones. There is a virtual disaster loan outreach center and a virtual business recovery center at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov or call 1-800-659-2955.

For assistance with applying for FEMA federal disaster, FEMA has opened a drive-thru document drop-off site for West Calcasieu residents at the Sulphur Regional Library, at 1160 Cypress Street. They are open from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., seven days a week.

Walk-up sites are also open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m at DeQuincy City Hall and the Morningstar Baptist Church in Vinton. These sites can upload documentation needed in applying for assistance that you provide. There is also a FEMA app available for download.

Jones said he has received a lot of inquiries about FEMA reimbursement for storm-related equipment purchases, including chainsaws and generators, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. “That all starts with being registered,” he said. He encouraged residents to register and continue to apply for different types of reimbursement, even if they are found ineligible for reimbursement for personal property damages or other areas of assistance.

The equipment reimbursement falls under the “Other Needs” category on the website. Residents can get guidance on chainsaw and generator reimbursement at https://www.calcasieuparish.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=9833.

Jones also reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has deployed 398 personnel throughout the state. He said that between the Corps and their contractors, there are currently more than 700 people in Calcasieu Parish installing tarps on damaged structures. So far, statewide, 1,500 of the 7,100 qualified homes have received their blue roofs. To sign up for the Corps’ Blue Roof program call 888-766-3258 or visit www.usace.army.mil/blueroof. Registration ends September 21.

Visit https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4559 for more information.