Jeremy Alford

State money available to fortify homes

by Jeremy Alford

If you’re a property owner in the Lafayette area who has experienced damage from hurricanes in recent years, you could be eligible to receive as much as $7,500 in state money to make small-scale improvements to protect your home from similar losses by future storms. The cash could be used for a variety of updates ranging from installing roof-tie downs to elevating electrical panels.

If you’re among the 110 local applicants of the state’s Road Home program that selected what’s known as “Option 1” — the offered alternative to rebuild or repair your homes — then you’re eligible and must opt-in to the new initiative by March 10, 2010. All told, there are about 1,400 individuals across Acadiana who can take part. (Only one household from Lafayette has chosen “Option 2,” which involves selling their property but staying in Louisiana. No one as of yet has selected “Option 3” to sell and move outside the state.)

Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, says the state has already invested more than $846 million in helping residents raise their homes and these grants, known as Individual Mitigation Measures or IMM grants, will further make homes safer and stronger for “Option 1” Road Home applicants. “In the aftermath of the great damage caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, preventing future home damage and loss is one of Louisiana’s top priorities, which is why we are offering grants to help homeowners pay to install common sense protection like storm shutters,” says Rainwater.

IMM grants are intended to be used on smaller improvements that homeowners can make to their properties to protect their investments in the event of future storms. Some examples of eligible work include:
â- Strengthening doors
â- Protecting windows, including by installing storm shutters
â- Bolting roofs to walls and walls to foundations
â- Elevating electrical panels or air conditioning units
â- Raising washers, dryers, hot water heaters or furnaces
â- Anchoring propane tanks or heating fuel tank
Last week, the state began mailing forms to more than 100,000 Road Home applicants statewide who selected “Option 1” to rebuild or repair their homes. Homeowners can also use this form to choose to participate in the Office of Community Development’s HMGP Elevation Program, which offers eligible homeowners up to $100,000 to elevate their homes.

Because of FEMA regulations surrounding how HMGP funds can be used and because these new IMM funds are offered only as reimbursements, homeowners should not install or start work on their improvements until speaking with a mitigation analyst and their home has been cleared by the program. Mitigation analysts can be reached at 1-877-824-8312 or [email protected] Information is also available online at

Homeowners who have already completed IMM work who they think might eligible for reimbursement should collect copies of receipts and invoices for the work, which will be necessary to move forward with the program.