Officials: Hurricane Laura death toll rises to 28; FEMA distributes $73 million so far

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

The federal government has paid $73 million in individual assistance to Louisiana residents affected by Hurricane Laura, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday added Union and Morehouse to the list of parishes where residents are eligible for individual assistance, bringing the total to 18 parishes.

State officials have confirmed 28 deaths related to Hurricane Laura and its aftermath, several of which were caused at least in part by the heat, Edwards said.

About 120,000 homes and businesses still don’t have power, he said, down from about 615,000 immediately after the storm. Almost 13,000 evacuees are being sheltered in Louisiana, along with thousands more in Texas.

The previously approved parishes are Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, Vermilion, Vernon and Winn. State requests to add more parishes to the list are pending.

More than 131,000 Louisiana residents so far have requested FEMA assistance, which can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property loss and other programs.

FEMA aid may not duplicate insurance payments, though disaster survivors who are underinsured can still get help after insurance claims are settled.

“FEMA assistance alone cannot make survivors whole,” the agency says. “FEMA’s disaster assistance programs are designed to help with grants for basic repairs to make survivors’ homes safe, sanitary and secure and to provide a temporary place to live while survivors develop their recovery plans.”