BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Despite the destruction caused by Tuesday’s tornadoes, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is warning that there might not be any federal disaster assistance available to help victims recover.
Edwards signed a state of emergency declaration Wednesday in the wake of the severe weather that spawned several tornadoes in Louisiana on Tuesday, including the deadly twister that devastated the Pecan Farms area in the rural Caddo Parish community of Keithville.
A disaster declaration allows public officials to exercise emergency powers to preserve life, property, and public health following a disaster. It is part of a process that moves through each level of government, from the county to the state and federal levels, as resources and capabilities are taxed.
While it is the first step in the recovery process, the governor emphasized Wednesday that such a declaration does not guarantee disaster relief assistance. Edwards said he does not expect a federal disaster declaration or any help from FEMA or any other federal agencies in the wake of this week’s storms because the magnitude of this disaster will not reach the monetary threshold necessary to secure that kind of assistance.
“The per capita damage amount in Louisiana is such that it’s $1.77 per person. That’s $8.2M for the state before we would be able to get federal assistance for public assistance, and it’s $4.44 here in Caddo Parish. It’d have to be about $1M,” Edwards said after touring the damage in Keithville. “There’s nothing to suggest that we’re going to get any public assistance from this. But we are asking people to report their damage so that we have a better idea of that and we’re not going to just automatically assume that there is no way that we’re going to get any help.”
“That’s not to minimize the damage to the families whose lives have been upended and turned upside down by this disaster,” Edwards continued. “But it’s just one of those things that we have to work through.”
Still, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is encouraging anyone who received damage from the storms to report their information at damage.la.gov. Edwards said the self-reporting damage survey will help state and local officials identify damage impacts in each region.
“We are obviously interested in capturing all the damage, whether it’s for individuals or property that’s owned by the public, parishes, cities, and so on.”
Reporting such damage is voluntary, however, and GOSHEP says anyone who chooses to report such data should keep in mind that this does not replace filing a claim with their insurance agency.