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Santa Maria Golf Course is under water for the most part. Aerials of severe weather flooding in East Baton Rouge Parish on Monday August 15, 2016.

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG

Thousands of homeowners in East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes may be eligible for three months of help paying for temporary housing while their residences are being repaired, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The temporary housing rental payments are one piece of the federal assistance available since President Barack Obama declared the parishes a federal disaster area. At least one month of assistance will be available for renters. There are also funds available for home repairs, to replace personal property and for transportation needs.

"We haven't set up a Disaster Recovery Center yet. They're still concentrating on lifesaving and rescue. Right now we're asking people to register by phone or through the website www.DisasterAssistance.gov," said FEMA spokeswoman Terri Romine.

The main number for FEMA is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service should call 1-800-621-3362.

The initial disaster declaration covers only four parishes, but assessments are still underway in other areas, Romine said, so other parishes could be added to the list.

Federal assistance includes:

• Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.

• Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.  

• Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals.

• Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully paid for by insurance. The loans, through the U.S. Small Business Administration, are up to $200,000 for primary residence; and up to $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. There are also business loans of up to $2 million for property losses not fully covered by insurance.

• SBA loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster's adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million.

• Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding their primary residence. 

• Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans’ benefits and social security matters.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, victims must first call FEMA. As soon as Federal-State Disaster Recovery Centers open throughout the affected area, SBA will provide one-on-one assistance to disaster loan applicants. Additional information and details on the location of disaster recovery centers is available by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955.

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is urging businesses to seek federal help. LABI President Stephen Waguespack said the business group is reaching out to members to gauge the impact of the floods, as well as relaying updated recovery and assistance information.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.