20,000 homeowners who suffered major flood damage in 2016 did not complete a short survey to see if they were eligible for the $1.3 billion in federal recovery aid. Anyone who suffered one foot of flooding or at least 8,000 dollars’ worth of damage was eligible to potentially receive RESTORE grants.

Division of Administration Executive Director Pat Forbes says that’s despite a substantial media blitz and…“hundreds of thousands of emails, tens of thousands of text messages, tens of thousands of phone calls, all to the addresses and phone numbers and email addresses from the FEMA database.”

More than half of those who did not fill out forms were from the hardest hit parishes of East Baton Rouge, Ascension, and Livingston.

Governor John Bel Edwards recently announced that those who qualified for RESTORE grants would receive 100 percent reimbursement on their claims, up from the original estimation of 50 percent. Forbes says the lower than estimated participation rate definitely played a part in getting those who did fill out the forms a bigger return.

“That is a big driver, not the entire thing but it is a big driver in why we ultimately had funds available to go do the 100 percent reimbursement.”

44% fewer households filled out the five minute survey than the state originally estimated would.

About half of the 1.3 billion allotted has been spent, but the state is cautiously waiting before spending the rest. Forbes says the remaining funds could be spent on additional homeowners who qualify for the grants, along with other flood-related expenses.

“Distributing those funds to folks who had SBA loans or putting it into infrastructure and additional affordable rental housing and economic development.”

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