Hurricane Victims File for Disaster Aid In Coastal Louisiana

REBUILDING AFTER ANDREW

LAST week's hurricane was followed by a blizzard of paper work, as storm victims in Louisiana began filing requests for disaster-relief assistance.

Electricity still hasn't been restored in many communities, relief agencies are giving away thousands of meals a day, and hundreds of people remain in emergency shelters. Eight fatalities have been attributed to the storm in Louisiana.

For all that, the state emerged in better shape from Hurricane Andrew's pounding than Florida, where damage estimates start at $15 billion. Officials have not released a Louisiana estimate.

But in Iberia Parish, one of 18 parishes that has qualified for federal disaster-relief funds, emergency-management coordinator Henry Bacque says a "very, very preliminary" estimate for his parish would be $125 million. The storm damaged heavily or destroyed 200 homes. All electrical power was lost.

After visiting the parish, President Bush told television viewers "I encourage all Americans to pitch in in any way you can," referring donors and volunteers to the American Red Cross's toll-free number: 1-800-842-2200.

That may benefit Florida, but Mr. Bacque said that in Louisiana, Iberia Parish, for one, the greatest need is to restore service to the one-third of the 66,000 residents without electricity. The Red Cross and several churches are operating shelters there. Relief agencies have distributed more than 15,000 meals a day.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened offices for disaster-relief aid in New Iberia, and coastal communities Morgan City, Plaquemine, Houma, and Franklin.

By early this week, FEMA officials statewide had received 4,700 applications and had made appointments to see as many more applicants in the coming week. FEMA hired 100 people to take applications via telephone.

FEMA will pay up to 18 months of temporary housing and will give grants or low-interest loans up to $11,500 for home repairs, through the Small Business Administration. Federal aid covers only what private insurance does not. On Monday, the first 29 checks were given out, totaling $42,000.

FEMA spokesman Marvin Davis considers the Louisiana relief effort a "textbook operation," much like the 25 other ones FEMA participates in annually.

Other agencies collecting donations for hurricane relief:

The Salvation Army

Andrew Relief Fund

PO Box 270848

Tampa, Fla. 33688-0848

Southern Baptist Convention

Disaster Relief

7130 Pembroke Road

Miramar, Fla. 33023

Church World Service

PO Box 968

Elkhart, Ind. 46515

World Relief

PO Box WRC

Wheaton, Ill. 60189

1-708-665-0235

The First Church of Christ, Scientist

Treasurer's Office

175 Huntington Avenue, A-70

Boston, Mass. 02115-9903

1-617-450-3205; (Specify "Hurricane Andrew Relief Fnd")

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