Edwards: Pre-apply for FEMA and DSNAP benefits now

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging Louisianans affected by Hurricane Laura to start pre-applying for benefits, including FEMA and disaster SNAP benefits.

To apply for FEMA benefits, go to disasterassistance.gov or call (800) 621-FEMA between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Edwards noted that some people who pre-applied through FEMA got “denials” from the agency. Edwards said that, in these cases, claims were denied because of insufficient insurance information. Once that information is provided, those denials should be reversed.

“Those should actually be deemed ‘pending,'” he said.

FEMA’s Tony Robinson said the insurance information is critical because it will be insurance’s job to “make you whole.” Robinson said FEMA is focused on making homes “safe, secure and liveable,” but will not double the work of insurance.

To date, over 52,000 people have pre-applied for FEMA assistance, said Robinson. Currently, FEMA is working on setting up people in “non-congregant” sheltering — which basically means hotels and motels. Traditional congregant shelters are being ignored in favor of private rooms due to COVID-19.

FEMA individual assistance benefits have been approved for six parishes: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jeff Davis and Vernon. Edwards said the state has applied for benefits in a total of 23 parishes, but must go through damage assessments before those benefits can be approved.

To pre-register for DSNAP benefits, go to dcfs.la.gov/dsnap. While DSNAP is not expected to be activated for another two weeks or so, pre-registering will help get people into the system quickly. Those with SNAP benefits will see early reloads on their SNAP cards and will not need to register for DSNAP benefits. Those who get SNAP benefits that are not the maximum amount will be raised up to the maximum amount due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Replacement benefits for food lost to refrigeration failure can also be expected.

Additional storm recovery information can be found at hurricanelaura.la.gov.

Those looking for shelter can text “LASHELTER” to 898-211.

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