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How to find help after Hurricane Ida

If you've been affected by the storm, here's everything you need to know about federal, state and local resources.

hurricane ida gettyimages-853976792
Dan Reynolds Photography/Getty Images

Hurricane Ida rushed ashore on Aug. 28, battering Louisiana as it tore its way inward 16 years -- to the day -- that Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Bayou state. The violent storm was so powerful it actually reversed the flow of the Mississippi River.

The following day, President Joe Biden declared Louisiana a major disaster zone, offering additional federal assistance to the area. If you have been affected by the storm, you can apply for federal disaster relief benefits, and you can also search for emergency shelter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through its Disaster Assistance website. And there are other federal and state programs that may be able to provide immediate support:

Now, more than 1 million people are dealing with power outages, which is only adding to the challenges facing homeowners, renters, residents and businesses. Recovery efforts are underway -- but may move slowly. Bottom line: If you've been affected by the storm or its aftermath, help is available. Read on for an overview of the different entities and agencies that are providing support.

Shelter aid

If you were a part of the emergency evacuation or if your home has become uninhabitable, you can find an emergency shelter in your area. You can also find a local Disaster Recovery Center by using the online DRC Locator tool or by texting DRC and your ZIP code to 43362. To find an open shelter, you can text SHELTER and your ZIP code to 43362.

There are several other resources available to help:

Food aid

If you are having trouble finding food, the US Food and Nutrition Service provides a contact map for your state and local area to help you find food for you and your family. You can also check the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for help. For confidential support, you can call 211 or go to 211.org.

There are also some local organizations that have pledged help:

Mortgage assistance aid

If your home has been damaged by Hurricane Ida, contact your homeowner's insurance company as soon as it is safe to do so.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages

Federally backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have already announced special provisions, allowing homeowners a reprieve from mortgage payments in three-month intervals for up to 12 months. During this break from payments, there will be no late fees and late payments will not be reported to credit bureaus. You also are not required to catch up on payments all at once when the moratorium is over.

Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have set up special resources to help homeowners impacted by hurricane damage.

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac assistance contact information

Fannie Mae Freddie Mac
Mortgage look-up tool knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup freddiemac.com/mymortgage
Phone assistance 1-800-2FANNIE (1-800-232-6643) 1-800-373-3343

"Along with our mortgage servicers, Freddie Mac stands ready to provide immediate mortgage relief options to those affected by Hurricane Ida," says Bill Maguire, Freddie Mac's vice president of single-family servicing portfolio management.

"Once safe," Maguire says, "homeowners whose homes are impacted should contact their mortgage servicer -- the company they send their monthly mortgage payments to -- as soon as possible to talk about available mortgage relief options. This also includes homeowners whose places of employment have been impacted, resulting in a financial hardship that prevents them from being able to make their monthly payment."

Other mortgage resources

If your mortgage is not backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, here are other assistance programs you may qualify for:

Additional mortgage assistance programs

Program Contact information
HUD FHA-insured mortgage National Servicing Center 877-622-8525 or FHA Resource Center 800-CALL-FHA (5342)
HUD-approved housing counselors 800-569-4287 or hud.gov
Veterans VA home loans 877-827-3702
VA Specially Adapted Housing grant funds 877-827-3702

Renter assistance

Renter insurance policy coverage

The average renters insurance policy covers perils that include most storm damage, like rain, wind, fail and fire. Personal property damage is also typically covered, including furniture and electronics. Some policies offer additional living expenses coverage should you need to vacate your home for temporary living arrangements to stay in a hotel, or cover the cost of meals. If you have a separate renters flood insurance policy, you can also receive protection from Hurricane Ida's severe flooding by contacting your insurance company and filing a claim.

Rental assistance

The CDC's rent moratorium ended on Aug. 26, but there are still local programs available to supply help for rent and utilities.

Federal ERA program

The US Department of the Treasury's Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides assistance with a variety of expenses beyond your rent. This can include:

  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Fuel
  • Sewer
  • Trash removal
  • Internet
  • Reasonable late fees
  • Moving expenses
  • Other rental fees and expenses

Availability of services depends on your local program and may include additional housing stability services, such as counseling and legal representation. You can find out more at the Treasury website.

Tips for recovery

Emergency management services have been overwhelmed, but flooding has rendered many stationary and unable to travel to those in need. Many Louisiana EMS services shut down altogether as the 911 system went down from the storm. With such significant damages already present, there is no doubt that a long recovery lies ahead.

As affected residents struggle to restore their homes and rebuild communities, these are some tips to help your family get through the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

  • Get to higher ground if there is flooding.
  • Shelter in place. Do not go outside, avoid driving and do not return home until instructed by local government officials or law enforcement.
  • Receive medical treatment if you are injured and keep your injuries dry with clean, dry bandages.
  • Secure your pets in a crate or on a high surface to help keep them safe and calm.
  • Remain plugged in to weather reports and news whenever possible in case there is additional flooding, tornadoes or new storms.
  • Limit phone calls so emergency responders are able to communicate with people in need without jammed phone lines.
  • Stay calm. No one can think past panic, so try to collect yourself with a few deep breaths and focus on the task at hand.

The American Red Cross provides more tips to help.

Get financial protection against future hurricanes

There are no specific hurricane insurance policies, but if you live in an area that could be impacted by hurricanes, it's recommended that you purchase flood insurance and windstorm insurance. If you already have flood or windstorm insurance and experienced damage from Hurricane Ida, you should reach out to your insurance company and file a claim.

Most policies take 30 days to update, so you'll want to secure a policy as soon as possible.