Homeowner Spotlights

Homeowner Spotlight: The Lees

BATON ROUGE, La. – As a former state employee, retiree Don Lee has an insider’s perspective on government run programs.

“Restore Louisiana is a well-run program,” he says. “They did more than I expected they would in a short amount of time.”

The Lees’ Baton Rouge home received 18 inches of water in the August 2016 flood. Once the water receded, Don and his wife, Marie, acted quickly to get their home habitable.

“Four days after it flooded we were able to get everything out, including floors and sheetrock,” he says. “We had it completely dried out in about eight days.”

Lee says he and his wife were fortunate to have friends, family and some contractors who helped with the work necessary to move back in.

Lee learned about the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program from TV and radio advertising. He and his wife chose reimbursement through the program because they had completed the bulk of their home repairs.

“My daughter took care of all the paperwork online for us,” he said. “Within a couple of weeks, two people from Restore Louisiana came out and looked at my home. In just a short period of time, we were approved.”

Lee encourages others to find out more about Restore Louisiana. “They are very professional, and I was pleased with our experience.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Lillie Gumm

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – A Baton Rouge homeowner is one step closer to closure almost a year after the historic 2016 flood.

Lillie Gumm invited Governor John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards to tour her Park Forest home Monday afternoon and see the progress made by the Restore Louisiana program, which she says is almost 90 percent complete.

Gumm is one of the first people to sign up with the program and her home is the third one to be completed through the service.

“I mean, just in about three weeks, my house has been completely turned around and the whole process took about three months from start to finish,” said Gumm.

Gumm went with the state-managed option of the program, meaning just about everything from the walls to the counter tops and the cabinets were all done by state-hired contractors. She says it is the best decision she’s ever made. “They were so compassionate, it brought tears to my eyes because they were sensitive to what I had gone through,” said Gumm.

As the anniversary of the historic flood approaches, the governor admits he is not satisfied with the speed of the effort, but wants critics to know they are working hard.

“There’s a lot of things that we can do better. I can do a better job. People who work for me can do a better job and the federal bureaucracy can be re-examined and streamlined as well,” said Edwards.

While Gumm is a success story, there are still many people out there who have not filled out the survey. It’s something Edwards and Gumm say needs to change now.

“We’ve had about 37,000 people take surveys, but we know that there are thousands more who need to and that starts the process which will determine your eligibility,” said Edwards.

“Please sign up without delay,” Gumm added. “Sign up right away.”

Crews still have to complete a few more days worth of work before they are done, but Gumm says she’s 100 percent satisfied with what they have already finished.

Homeowner Spotlight: The Shelmires

BATON ROUGE, La. — Alfred Shelmire has lived on the same street in the Brownsfield community of East Baton Rouge Parish for 23 years.

“It’s not as quiet as when I first moved in,” he says. “Mine was one of the first homes here. There have been a lot more built since then.”

The Shelmires’ home is the first on their street to be renovated through the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program after more than three feet of water inundated their home during the 2016 August flood. “Restore Louisiana is a great program that relieved the financial burden of rebuilding our home,” he says. “Even though we lost some material possessions, our faith in God remains strong.”

“Everybody with the Restore Louisiana program has been very nice,” says Charlene Shelmire, Alfred’s wife. “The paperwork process was easy and efficient – the survey, application for assistance and the caseworker pre-reconstruction interview.”

Mrs. Shelmire says neighbors kept tabs on the renovations, often peeking in on the progress.

The Shelmires opted for state-managed construction solution. They finalized their award amount on June 28. Installation of their new appliances, countertops, carpeting and more was completed by mid- July.

Mr. Shelmire says there are still other homes on his street that need to be restored, and he’s glad to be one of the first to be served by Restore Louisiana.

“We would like to first thank God for carrying us through this tough experience, Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Restore Louisiana Program and the construction companies who collaborated on this project to help flood victims get back in their homes,” says Shelmire.