HOUMA -- Nearly 10,000 Terrebonne Parish homes were severely damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Rita, but officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency said they had to investigate whether residents are eligible for disaster relief.
In a memo Monday, William Lokey, FEMA’s deputy federal coordinating officer, wrote that although Gov. Kathleen Blanco asked for all parishes to be declared disasters, and eligible for relief money, only the Louisiana parishes that suffered hurricane-force winds have been included.
Saturday, FEMA declared nine Texas counties and five coastal Louisiana parishes in the southwest portion of the state disaster areas and eligible for individual assistance -- including low-interest loans to rebuild damage homes -- as a result of Rita.
In his memo, Lokey wrote that although Blanco wanted all parishes included in FEMA’s disaster-assistance program, "FEMA determined to initially include only parishes which sustained hurricane-force winds."
Terrebonne sustained tropical-storm-force winds during Rita, but a 9-foot storm surge swamped thousands of homes and displaced a significant portion of the parish population.
Lokey wrote that FEMA is working with state officials to determine whether residents in additional parishes need help. [Read more - WWLTV]