Federal officials will be offering free, temporary roofs for Orleans, Jefferson and 11 other parishes damaged by Hurricane Ida, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday.

The coverings, known as blue roofs or blue tarps, dotted the landscape after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and after other storms.

"I am encouraging homeowners to take advantage of this program," Edwards told reporters during a briefing in Gretna.

Residents can sign up at Blueroof.us or, for more information, by calling 1-888-ROOF-Blu.

Meanwhile, FEMA has no plans to open disaster recovery centers in south Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Ida, officials said.

The centers are mobile sites where storm victims can get information about assistance and FEMA.

Officials are urging those who need help to call 1-800-621-3362 or by going online at DisasterAssistance.gov.

"Everybody who is a Hurricane Ida survivor needs to apply to FEMA for individual assistance," Edwards said. "In the last day and a half they (FEMA officials)  have set records for how many people have applied so quickly and frankly they have gotten tens of millions of dollars out the door to those families as well."

The announcement followed a series of checks by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on whether roof damage justified the tarps.

The tarps are fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover damaged roofs until permanent repairs are made.

The program is aimed at primary residences or permanently-occupied rental property with less than 50% structural damage. Vacation homes are not eligible.

Roofs that are flat or made of metal or clay slate or asbestos tile do not qualify.

All storm debris has to be removed to qualify for a blue roof.

The work is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for FEMA.

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Edwards said after Hurricane Laura struck the Lake Charles area in 2020 officials installed 13,000-14,000 blue roofs.

The governor said that, when Hurricane Delta struck the same area a few weeks later, 'it was very apparent which homeowners had their roofs in the blue roof program. Those roofs remained in place."

While President Joe Biden has declared 25 southeast Louisiana parishes as disaster areas 13 qualified for the blue roof program. They are Orleans, Ascension, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Terrebonne parishes.

Once an application is filed to FEMA a home inspection may be scheduled to verify damage.

Inspections are done without entering the residence.

Inspectors maintain social distance, assess the site and verbally confirm interior damage by telephone.

When an inspection takes place applicants should have a photo identification, a list of those living in the home at the time of the hurricane and all the damages to both real and personal property.

Applicants will either get an email or a letter depending on what they requested in their application.

The message will spell out whether the applicant is entitled to assistance, how much, how the aid can be used and how to appeal FEMA's decision in case of disagreement.

Those who may appeal a denial letter have 60 days to decide.

The assistance is determined by recording essential losses and needs to what FEMA offers.

Inspectors do not decide whether applicants are eligible.

Those seeking help can also set up a personal account  at the FEMA disaster assistance center at DisasterAssistance.gov.

Applicants will be instructed to establish a personal identification number so their information is secure.

Doing so will allow them to review their application, provide updates on personal information and needs, view letters and messages from FEMA, get details on any additional documents required, upload documents to the applicant's file and review information that FEMA has collected.


Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.