Hurricane preparedness: after the storm

  • Published
  • By Maj. Marnee Losurdo
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
The hurricane is over and the damage has been assessed. Now the question is, "What to claim or what not to claim?"

The 81st Training Wing Comptroller Squadron and legal office offer the following information to answer common questions about entitlements and claims to assist Keesler members and families impacted by a hurricane.

Filing vouchers

Concerning travel vouchers, the evacuation order is the key, said 1st Lt. John Concepcion, 81st Comptroller Squadron financial service officer. Military members, civilian employees and dependents are only entitled to reimbursement if the wing commander declares a mandatory evacuation.

For voluntary evacuations, commanders issue a pass, but are not reimbursed for their expenses, he said.

The 81st CPTS provides answers to common questions about entitlements.

Will I be issued orders?

Military members and civilian employees will be issued orders, which identify minimum and maximum mileage for travel reimbursement. Travel must begin at the date and time authorized on the orders. If travel occurs prior to this time, individuals will not be reimbursed.

Do I need to use my government travel card?

Yes. During mandatory evacuations Airmen and civilian employees must use their government travel card. The first means of paying for travel is to use the GTC. Individuals who do not have a GTC will pay with their own money and will be reimbursed upon filing their travel voucher. Under extreme conditions for the member, travel advances will be authorized by the 81st CPTS.

How much will I be paid for lodging, meals and incidentals?

Lodging, meals and incidental rates are based on evacuation locations, also referred to as safe havens. Lodging reimbursement is based on actual cost accrued and will not exceed the allowed rate at the safe haven location. Personnel who stay at locations outside the designated boundary will be compensated at the continental United States rate of up to $77 for lodging and $46 for meals and incidentals per day.

For the first 30 days, military and civilian employees and their dependents over the age of 12 will receive 100 percent of the rate while children under the age of 12 will receive 50 percent. On the 31st day of the evacuation, military and their dependents ages 12 and older will receive 60 percent of the rate, and children under age 12 will get 30 percent.

Save receipts for hotel and airline expenses as they are required to submit with the voucher.

Rates can be found at: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/perdiem/.

How much will I be reimbursed for driving to my safe haven?

Personnel driving their own vehicles will be reimbursed 56.5 cents per mile. For reimbursement, individuals must travel the minimum distance indicated on their orders. Individuals will not be reimbursed for any mileage exceeding the maximum distance.

Can I be reimbursed local travel for my dependents who do not have a vehicle at the safe haven location?

Yes. A flat rate of $25 per day is allowed to offset unexpected travel costs regardless of the number of dependents.

When do I file my voucher?

Individuals must file their voucher upon their return to Keesler. Mass briefings will be scheduled to assist military and civilian personnel with completing travel vouchers. Sponsors are required to file the voucher, but if the sponsor didn't evacuate, or is unavailable, the dependent may file the voucher. Remember to bring receipts for hotel and airline expenses to the briefing.

Do I file my voucher in DTS?

No. On emergency orders, nothing is submitted through the Defense Travel System.

Also, for reimbursement, individuals must return to the base to file their voucher.

"In order to get paid, you have to return to Keesler," said Concepcion. "Many people never returned to the base after Hurricane Katrina. They got different jobs and never came back. You have to start and end at the same location to complete your order and file your travel voucher."

Filing an Air Force Claim

"Only personnel who reside on base are eligible to file a claim for damages to their property incurred during a hurricane," said Capt. Craig Dunham, 81st TRW judge advocate.

Dunham encourages personnel to take measures before the storm to ensure the safety of their property.

"This will assist in preventing loss or damage to property and eliminate the need to file a claim," he said.

"Also, video or photograph your property," said Lt. Col. Brandon Hart, 81st TRW staff judge advocate. "You may want to e-mail those files to yourself so you can access them from any location."

"This is very important when it comes time to file a claim," said Dunham. "Individuals will need to bring photos or videos of objects taken before and after the storm along with documentation regarding value, age and property description."

Remember, save your receipts.

Should damage occur, Dunham encourages base housing residents to not throw items away without contacting the claims office.

Listed below are answers to common questions regarding claims.

Will I be reimbursed for expenses to prevent or mitigate storm damage?

No, the Air Force only reimburses personnel who reside on base for their damaged items, according to the Air Force Claims Center and the 81st TRW legal office. However, individuals should check with their private insurance companies to inquire if they will pay for purchases or measures taken to prevent storm damage to property. Also, no reimbursement will be made for the purchase of generators.

Who can file a claim for damaged property with the Air Force?

Military and civilians who live off base are not authorized to file claims for damage occurring off base. However, military members and civilians who live on base are eligible to file for damage that occurred on base. Also, military members and civilians who are authorized to be on base at the time of the storm may also file for damages that occurred on base.

How much will the government reimburse?

Individuals must file with their private insurance companies first before making a claim with the Air Force. Typically, the U.S. government will reimburse up to $40,000 of property damage loss and up to $100,000 in disasters. Payment is based on the depreciated current replacement cost.

Active-duty members who own and store their boats and recreational vehicles on base may file a claim if their property is damaged during the hurricane. Personnel must file with their private insurance companies first. Air Force claims are capped at $3,000 per vehicle.

How soon can I file a claim and where do I go to file?

The Keesler Legal Office claims representatives will process claims as soon as possible after a storm. The office is in the Sablich Center, Building 0701, and the phone number is (228)376-8601.

"If the office relocates due to the storm, we will advertise the new phone number and location," said Dunham.

(This is part four of a four-part series about hurricane preparedness. Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo is a reservist with the 512th Airlift Wing, Dover Air Force Base, Del., performing her annual tour with the 81st Training Wing Public Affairs Office.)