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FEMA trailers are evident on almost every street in Central after the August floods.

Advocate Staff Photo by PATRICK DENNIS

An extension has been granted until Sept. 1 for victims of the August flood who had flood insurance to file their proof-of-loss claims, which help determine how much money they receive for repairs.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the extension at the request of Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. The filing deadline was May 12.

Donelon said the extension means every policyholder will have a minimum of one year from their date of loss to complete their repairs. FEMA's range of dates of loss was Aug. 9-31.

"This issue arises because a great number of those homeowners and business owners are still actively involved in the rebuilding and recovery process as a result of contractor and supplier issues that typically follow a catastrophic event …," Donelon said in the extension request.

FEMA spokesman Darrell Walker had said this week that the request would get an expedited review at FEMA's headquarters.

Extending the deadline gives people more time to work with their supplemental claims, such as concealed damage uncovered when making repairs, Walker said. The extension won't affect the people who have already filed appeals disputing the original damage estimates by insurance adjusters.

As of Tuesday, the National Flood Insurance Program had received 29,597 claims and paid $2.41 billion for them, or an average of $87,748 per closed claim. Some 243 claims remain open, and some of those policyholders have received advance payments to help start with repairs.

On a standard flood insurance policy, policyholders have 60 days to send insurers complete and sworn proof-of-loss claims. FEMA has now extended the original deadline four times.

"This is a small, but important victory for flood survivors who continue to struggle with the painfully frustrating flood insurance process," said Congressman Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, who also submitted an extension request.

Flood policyholders should direct questions to their insurance provider or call (800) 621-3362 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and select Option 2. Those using a TTY, teletypewriter, can call (800) 462-7585 or who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call (800) 621-3362.