How to obtain disaster financial assistance

Almost 11 years ago, just like many, I lost everything to Hurricane Katrina. At that time, I started a website and volunteered to help others with disaster financial assistance, which blossomed into today. This was my way of coping and getting my mind off of my own personal loss.  Fast forward, I am still helping others and was truly honored to share financial disaster tips on ‪Fox 8 NOLA‬!

If you know someone who was impacted, please share the information below.  If you were impacted by the recent floods, you may be able to obtain financial assistance to help you weather the storm.  Here are a few ways to help you or a loved one.

#1 FEMA Assistance

Persons impacted by the recent floods should register with the Federal Emergency Management Assistance (FEMA) to apply for disaster financial assistance and other needs.  Individuals can register online at or by calling 1.800.621.FEMA (3362) as well.

What type of information will they need?

Individuals will need their personal contact information, bank account and routing numbers, address of the damaged property, social security numbers to apply.

What type of assistance is provided?

Individuals who qualify may be able to obtain temporary living expenses, disaster related expenses – such as funeral, medical and child care expenses and other assistance.  Keep in mind, FEMA cannot duplicate assistance received from your insurance company.

#2 Deduct a casualty loss on your tax return  

A casualty loss is allowed for persons who have experienced a loss due to an event such as flooding. Individuals recently impacted by the flood may want to consider filing a casualty loss on his or her tax return.  Keep in mind, if you reside in an area that has been designated as a federally declared disaster area, you can amend the preceding year’s tax return to generate a refund quicker if you qualify.  For instance, if you incur a loss in the year of 2016, you may be able to amend your 2015 tax return to claim a loss if you live in an area deemed a federally declared disaster area.

DisasterChecklistnj.jpegHow much can you claim?

The loss can be a partial or whole loss and the amount of the loss is the lesser of the cost or the decline in fair market value.  Please note if you receive insurance or other financial assistance, you must reduce the loss by funds you receive.

When should you file and what form should you use?

You will utilize form 4684 to file for a casualty loss.  As mentioned, typically you can file in the year the damage occurs. However, if your area has been declared a federal declared disaster area, you can amend your previous tax year’s return.  This will allow you to receive a refund sooner instead of waiting for tax time.

#3 Register for state benefits

Disaster unemployment benefits

Those impacted by the recent floods and who have lost their jobs as a result of flooding, can apply for disaster unemployment benefits.  The Louisiana Workforce Commission is accepting applications until September 15th for those impacted.  Workers can receive up to $247 for each week they’re unemployed for a maximum of 26 weeks.

Disaster food benefits

In addition to unemployment benefits, individuals impacted by recent floods should consider applying to the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  This program is set in place to help individuals with assistance to purchase groceries due to lost wages due to the flood.  

Other great resources:

Disaster Financial Checklist 

Remember: your choice your future!

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and author of The Ten Commandments to a Financial Healing.  Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on FaceBook.

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