I met Linda Burt at one of our outreach meetings on January 19, 2017 at Linda’s Chicken and Fish at Watson, Louisiana.
Our meetings across Louisiana basically explained all the issues Flood Survivors will be facing when as they start rebuilding, from our experiences in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.
We discussed the following issues;
Substantially Damaged – in some cases you might want to be determined SD, to receive the additional $30,000 to raise or build a new home.
Flood Insurance Premiums – when considering whether to rebuild or raise your home, you need to take into account what your “actuary rate will be” . How much will your flood insurance bill rise to, once the subsidies are gone. It might be cost effective to raise it now and not worry about high flood premiums.
Flood Insurance Claim – How thousands homeowners were and continually defrauded and underpaid and are still not paid on their flood claim in NY and NJ, 5 years after Sandy.
Discussing SBA, ICC, Grant Programs and how to avoid Clawbacks in the future.
Below is an update. by Linda Burt, on her rebuilding effort, 1 year after the Great Louisiana Flood in South East, Louisiana. See how the same issues keep repeating themselves.
“It has been a long time posting an update on the ponderosa, so I thought I would take a little time to do so. I am still in a FEMA trailer and nothing done on the house. At first I thought I was behind time, but have come to realize that by waiting, time has been my friend. When others were repairing, some too quickly, others lost their homes due to past due mortgages, some simply walked away, some demolished and some like me who are still fiighting.
As time goes on, I realize there are different categories of flood victims. Those who repaired too quickly and are either faced with recurring mold, contractors that took their money or those who ran out of money because their flood adjuster appraised them too low for the repairs. Those who did not have flood insurance, received just enough money from FEMA to get their walls up and that was about it. Grant money is available, as well as Restore Louisiana Program, but both are a long wait with lots of paperwork. Then there are those that kept on paying their mortgages on their homes and finally lost. Some took their insurance money and paid their mortgage just to save their homes, but have no more money to repair. Those that threw their hands up and simply walked away. There were very few in the first 6 months that demolished, but I am seeing more and more of that now. Honest contractors and good help are still in shortage, not to mention the back order of needed appliances.
For me, I did have flood insurance which did pay half of a maximum policy by what the flood adjuster appraised the house for. But we all know that everyone’s appraisals were too low and people are having to fight tooth and nail to receive what was rightfully coming to them. I went to many meetings and spent countless hours researching about FEMA, National Flood Insurance Program “NFIP” and their guidelines, but could never get a definite answer to my many questions.
The next order of business was submitting our Supplemental Proof of Loss “POL”. I had everything copied and ready to go, complete with before and after pictures, but I could never find a contractor or appraiser that was willing to come to the house and give me that line by line appraisal that was required. It was then that I was fortunate enough to meet Sondra Richard a local real estate lady and advocate for the local flood victims, at a FEMA meeting. Meeting Sondra put me in touch with adjuster, Kermith Sonnier, who in turn put me in touch with local Denham Springs attorney Brian Abels, who was working with the Katrina and Hurricane Sandy DC attorneys, Josh Katz and Michael Moore of the firm Weisbrod, Matteis and Copley.
After realizing that I had done all I could do on my own, and over stressed with unable to find an appraiser, I hired Josh Katz with the DC law firm. One of the best moves I have made so far. Within a week they had adjuster, Kermith Sonnier out to the house, submitted my supplemental POL and recently sent their own engineer to the house. With the help of Mr. Sonnier’s appraisal and the engineer’s report, I am very hopeful that I will receive close to, if not all of my policy limit. By hiring an attorney, it has relieved me from so much stress.
So after weighing all my options, repair (out), demolish (still possible) or sell, I am accepting the fact that selling will most likely be the best option for me. My time on the ponderosa has been a very long and good one. My home for 27 years since moving to Baton Rouge. But things have run their course for me and this beautiful place I called home. It is time to move on to a new and fresh chapter in my life.
So asking for prayers for strength and guidance that whatever my next transition in this whole ordeal is will be a good one, wherever it may take me. One that will bring new and many more memories, but most importantly, peace and happiness. Will keep you posted.”