By Jason Yancey, HOPE Coalition America Director

The extensive flooding that devastated Louisiana within the last two weeks is now the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Twenty parishes in the state have been declared federal disaster areas. Thirteen people were killed. Countless communities have been destroyed—homes and possessions lost; people displaced and in need of support, and hope.

Earlier this week, I was stationed at FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Zachary, Louisiana, to help facilitate assistance to those affected by the disaster. Specifically, HOPE Coalition America (HCA) provides guidance to help survivors:

  • Register with FEMA
  • Appeal FEMA denials
  • Obtain SBA loans
  • Avoid or mitigate credit issues
  • Prevent foreclosure
  • Obtain rental assistance and gauge landlord obligations
  • Negotiate insurance
  • Acquire contractors and home restorations

HOPE Coalition America negotiates on behalf of individuals and small businesses, serving as a financial advocate for underserved communities and neighborhoods affected by disasters. HCA advises clients on all of their options, guiding them step-by-step through the process. 

I had the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama, Governor John Bel Edwards, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, when they stopped by the DRC to thank volunteers and first responders for their hard work. Administrator Fugate was thrilled to see HCA on site. He informed the President and his staff of HCA’s contribution to FEMA’s program. Administrator Fugate explained, “I’ve seen people who have received $30,000 go out and spend it on new cars or televisions, instead of repairing their home. HOPE Coalition America guides them on financial literacy, to help them spend their dollars properly.” Administrator Fugate went on to divulge how HCA helps people recover from disasters financially and encourages them to proceed responsibly with their FEMA award or insurance checks.

IMG_0104

View footage of President Obama’s speech from the event here.