A federal disaster declaration has been issued in Louisiana for Orleans and Livingston Parishes following the tornadoes and severe storms that hit South Louisiana on February 7, 2017. The declaration was issued on February 11, 2017, by President Donald Trump upon the request of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

FEMA individual assistance will be available for residents and homeowners in Orleans and Livingston Parishes, including grants or low-cost loans for temporary housing, home repairs, and uninsured property losses, among other programs. To register with FEMA, visit DisasterAssistance.gov, call the FEMA Helpline at (800) 621-FEMA (3362), or download the FEMA mobile app.

Homeowners may be eligible for up to $200,000 to replace or repair or replace their primary residence through the Home and Personal Property Loans program administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Homeowners and renters may be eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses of any size and most private nonprofit organizations may be eligible for loans of up to $2 million to repair or replace real property, machinery, equipment fixtures, inventory, and leasehold improvements through the Business Physical Disaster Loans program administered through the SBA.

Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private nonprofit organizations may be eligible for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster, regardless of property damage. The SBA’s economic injury program extends beyond Orleans and Livingston Parishes, to the contiguous Louisiana Parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Helena, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa.

More details on the SBA programs, including loan details and interest rates, can be found at the SBA Fact Sheet for Louisiana Declaration #15045 & #15046.

FEMA has provided a summary of key federal aid programs that can be made available as needed under the disaster declaration.

A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is opening in Orleans Parish effective February 13, 2017, at East New Orleans Public Library, 5641 Read Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70127. Homeowners, renters, and businesses can visit the DRC to apply for or seek information regarding federal disaster assistance. Representatives will be on site from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration, the City of New Orleans, and other volunteer groups and agencies.

FEMA can be reached by phone at (800) 621-FEMA (3362).

The SBA Customer Service Center can be reached by phone at (800) 659-2955.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has issued another extension to policyholders under the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”) to file a proof of loss with supporting documentation for claims related to the August 2016 flooding.

Under the new extension, announced by FEMA on December 2, 2016, policyholders will now have a total of 180 days from the date of loss to provide a completed, signed, and sworn-to proof of loss to their insurer.

A proof of loss package should include an itemization of damaged items, with photographs, receipts, and other supporting documentation evidencing the value of the damaged items. A proof of loss is necessary for the NFIP to make payment on a claim. You can read more about a proof of loss here.

Read the complete FEMA statement regarding the most recent extension here.

 

The Louisiana Recovery Task Force has outlined programs that may help Louisiana companies get back to business following the historic August 2016 flooding.

More than 14,000 businesses were affected by the flooding. The concepts outlined by the Louisiana Task Force include providing banks with certain guarantees to incentive lending; compiling data on consumers and client in affected areas for use by businesses in deciding how to reopen; offering business counseling for navigating the recovery process; and giving small grants and loans to revive business operations. These programs would supplement the disaster loans offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Economic injury disaster loans through the SBA have a current deadline of May 15, 2017.

The programs outlined by the Louisiana Recovery Task Force may require additional funding from Congress, which has already approved approximately $438 million, $12 million of which is flagged for economic development. Louisiana is seeking approximately $4 billion more from the federal government to aid recovery.

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) announced that policyholders under the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”)  will be granted a 60-day extension to file a Proof of Loss with supporting documentation for claims related to the August 2016 flooding. This doubled the previous 60-day deadline imposed by the NFIP from the date of the flood event. See the FEMA announcement regarding the 60-day extension here.
  • A Proof of Loss package should include an itemization of damaged items, with photographs, receipts, and other supporting documentation evidencing the value of the damaged items. A Proof of Loss is necessary for the NFIP to make payment on a claim. You can read more about a Proof of Loss here.
  • Understanding flood maps can help assess risk for your residence and business. If you do not currently have flood insurance with the NFIP, or would like to learn more about different types of residential and commercial coverage, you can learn more at www.floodsmart.gov, which also contains various policyholder resources.
  • Contact your insurance company or call FEMA with any questions: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

In response to the August 2016 flooding event, there have been several articles about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) regulations, the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”), the base flood elevation requirements relating to a building damaged by flooding, and local government rebuilding requirements.  Please click here to read the client alert that will explain these programs and compliance requirements and the recent developments on the national and local levels, as FEMA and local governments in Louisiana respond to the August 2016 flood event.

 

3d illustration of house with ckecklist. White background.

As property owners shift their focus to repairing the very visible water damage to buildings and other structures, they should not lose their focus when it comes to the less apparent concerns that come with engaging contractors. Entities, like the Louisiana State Contractor Licensing Board, provide a certain level of protection to the consumer; however, caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) should still always be in the back of the minds of property owners as they navigate the path to recovery. The checklist below is provided to assist in this process.

1. Contact your insurance carrier. Document all damage before undertaking repairs.

2. Hire only licensed or registered contractors.

  • Residential building contractors performing work having a cost of $50,000 or more are required to be licensed by the Louisiana State Contractor Licensing Board. Such contractors are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance and commercial general liability insurance in the minimum amount of $100,000.
  • Persons performing home improvement services having a cost of more than $7,500 are required to be registered with, and approved by, the Contractor Licensing Board.
  • Persons performing mold remediation also are required to be licensed by the Contractor Licensing Board.
  • Verify the contractor’s licensing or registration by calling the Contractor Licensing Board at 225.765.2301 or by searching the Board’s website database.

Continue Reading Checklist for Louisiana Homeowners—Contracting for Repair of Disaster Damage

Due to the State of Emergency and the historic flooding in parts of Louisiana, the Commissioner of Insurance is promulgating Emergency Rule 28, which retroactively suspends statutory provisions of the Insurance Code concerning cancellations, terminations, non-renewals, and non-reinstatements of insurance policies due to a material change in the risk, and also gives insureds more time to comply with other policy provisions. The emergency rule applies to all lines of insurance and all regulated entities.

During the recent historic flood event, thousands of homes across south Louisiana were inundated with floodwater. For most homeowners, the recovery process has just begun. Information on possible funding, temporary housing, or other assistance is available from FEMA and other organizations. But if you own a flood-impacted home, you face another significant and perhaps more long-term question: What can you do now to protect the value—including the resale value—of your home? The following are a few points to consider and suggestions.

Disclosure of Flood–Related Issues
Louisiana law requires a seller of residential property to complete and provide to the prospective purchaser a property disclosure form prescribed by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission (LREC).1 The LREC property disclosure form 2 includes the following questions, among many others, that must be answered by the seller:

  • “Has any flooding, water intrusion, accumulation, or drainage problem been experienced with respect to land? If yes, indicate the nature and frequency of the defect at the end of this section.”
  • “What is/are the flood zone classification(s) of the property?”
  • “Has any structure on the property ever taken water by flooding (rising water or otherwise)? If yes, give the nature and frequency of the defect at the end of this section.”
  • “Has there been property damage related to the land or the improvements thereon, including, but not limited to, fire, windstorm, flood, hail, lightning, or other property damage? If yes, were all related property damages, defects, and/or conditions repaired?”
  • “Does the property or any of its structures contain any of the following? Check all that apply and provide the nature and frequency at the end of this section. . . . mold/mildew. . .toxic mold. . .contaminated drywall/Sheetrock.”
  • “Were any additions or alterations made to the property? If yes, were the necessary permits and inspections obtained for all additions or alterations?”

So not only should the seller disclose flood-related issues to the buyer as a matter of good faith, the seller is required to do so by law.


(La. R.S. 9:3198.)
The LREC property disclosure form is available here. An amended version of the form will become effective on January 1, 2017; however, the amended form does not change the disclosures discussed in this article.

Note also that Louisiana law requires licensed home inspectors to describe in their inspection reports the presence of suspected mold growth if visual evidence of mold is discovered inside the home.3 A mold inspection is outside the scope of a standard home inspection; however, if the home inspector observes mold, he must say so in the inspection report.4

Past flood damage and current mold issues have the potential to negatively impact the value of your home. So what should you do?

Protecting the Value of Your Flood-Impacted Home
A key factor in protecting the value of your home will be how well you can demonstrate to prospective purchasers, appraisers, inspectors, lenders, insurers, and others that the flood-related damage was properly repaired or otherwise addressed. What you do now will impact the future value of your home. The following are a few suggested strategies: Continue Reading After the Flood—Strategies for Protecting the Value of Your Home