• 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.

Deadline approaching: Friday, October 7, 2016, is the last day for Baton Rouge homeowners to apply for private property debris removal related to the August flood. The Associated Press reports the program allows for debris collection to go beyond curbside and into yards, with a signed right of entry agreement from a homeowner. Renters need their landlord to complete the application. The program is only available in the city of Baton Rouge and unincorporated parts of East Baton Rouge Parish. The cities of Baker, Central and Zachary are overseeing their own debris removal efforts. The city-parish government says more than 1,150 homeowners have submitted right of entry agreements for the private property debris removal.

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.

 

FEMA has approved the Community Disaster Loan for Louisiana, which will provide aid to local governments affected by the historic flooding events of 2016 in South Louisiana. This program will provide loans directly to local governments that experienced substantial loss of tax and other revenue following the flooding. Funds provided through this program will be used on existing government functions or expansions to meet disaster needs.

These loans are for five years but can be extended to ten. They may not exceed the lesser of 25% of the local government’s operating budget for the fiscal year in which the disaster occurred or a cumulative estimated revenue loss for the fiscal year in which the disaster occurred and the following three fiscal years. If the estimated revenue loss for the fiscal year of the disaster is at least 75% of the applicant government’s operating budget for that fiscal year, the loan may be 50% of the local government’s operating budget for the fiscal year of the disaster, but in no event shall it exceed $5 million.

The Louisiana Housing Corporation has released the 2016 Distressed Projects Initiative Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).  The NOFA is designed to provide funding to financially distressed projects awarded 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) through the 2015 LIHTC Funding Round that are located in Hurricanes Ike and Gustav designated parishes. The deadline for submitting applications is October 7, 2016. The LHC is implementing this NOFA to address financially distressed projects funded through the 2015 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) that have experienced uncontrollable, identifiable project costs. Uncontrollable costs are considered unforeseen hard costs related to the development of a project. Applicants must be able to evidence the current financial condition of the project, the circumstances leading to the financial condition, and mitigating measures undertaken.

The East Baton Rouge City-Parish government has launched the Private Property Debris Removal program, authorizing debris removal teams to collect flood debris extending 30 feet beyond the public right-of-ways and onto private properties. FEMA authorized the City-Parish to move forward with the program as long as homeowners sign a right-of-entry agreement. To participate, homeowners must provide proof of homeownership to a city-parish Private Property Debris Removal program coordinator and complete a right-of-entry agreement. Residents can apply for the program online or in person at the Private Property Debris Removal Application Center, 10201 Celtic Drive, Suite B.

Satellite applications centers have also been established at the following locations:

•Chaneyville Community Center, 13211 Jackson Road

•Pride Library, 13600 Pride-Port Hudson Road

•Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road

•Charles R. Kelly Community Center, 3535 Riley St.

•Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 4000 Gus Young Ave.

•Jones Creek Branch Library, 6222 Jones Creek Road

•Leo S. Butler Community Center, 950 E. Washington St.

•Fairwood Branch Library, 12910 Old Hammond Hwy.

Applications are being accepted from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week at each location and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center location. To apply online, residents need to download and complete the right-of-entry agreement and email it to BRdebris@thompsoncs.net with the subject that reads “your name-your address,” along with a copy of a valid Louisiana ID matching the property address.

On October 3, 2016, under Notice 2016-55, the IRS will announce that employees won’t be taxed when they forgo vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for employer contributions of amounts to Section 170(c) charitable organizations providing relief to Louisiana storm victims. Notice 2016-55 will also provide that employers may deduct the amounts contributed as business expenses.

Leave-based donations. Some employers have set up or may be considering setting up programs where employees can donate their vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for the employer making cash payments to qualified tax-exempt organizations that provide relief for the victims of the August 2016 Louisiana storms.

Tax treatment. In Notice 2016-55, the IRS will announce that it will not assert that cash payments an employer makes to Section 170(c) organizations in exchange for vacation, sick, or personal leave that its employees elect to forgo, constitute gross income or wages of the employees, if the payments are:

  1. Made to the Section 170(c) organizations for the relief of victims of the Louisiana storms; and
  2. Paid to the Section 170(c) organizations before January 1, 2018. Nor will giving employees the choice to participate cause employees to be considered in constructive receipt of income.

It should be noted that employees who participate in a leave-sharing donation program won’t be allowed to claim a charitable contribution deduction for the value of forgone leave excluded from compensation and wages.

As for employers, the IRS has provided that it won’t assert that payments made under a leave-sharing donation program are deductible as charitable contributions under Section 170, rather than as business expenses under Section 162.

Finally, it should be noted that a written disaster leave-sharing plan is required in order to take advantage of the above-referenced IRS leave-sharing pronouncements. Specifically, a list of enumerated requirements must be met in order to be subject to the above-enumerated IRS leave-sharing program.

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.