Homeowner Spotlights

Homeowner Spotlight: Gary Cashe

BAKER, La. – Gary Cashe said he would literally have been up a creek had it not been for the team effort of the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program and its many partners.

“It was truly a team effort,” Cashe said. “Everybody worked together well and it made us feel very fortunate.”

Cashe’s home fell victim to the August 2016 floodwaters when water ruined everything from two feet down.

“The program worked,” he said. “They came in and evaluated my restoration needs and that allowed me to get all the materials on site I needed to get busy. The people who assisted us came through with their regular inspections and answered any questions we had.”

Cashe said a big reason for the smooth flow of the process is that he was fortunate to have all his paperwork in order. “We had everything documented,” he added.

Cashe said he’s now in what amounts to a new home – new drywall, cabinets, wiring, flooring, appliances, and central heat and air.

“We certainly appreciate the support and help we received from Restore Louisiana,” he said.

Homeowner Spotlight: Mickie Huszar

HAMMOND, La. – Mickie Huszar is thankful to be settling back into her home following extensive repairs on her flood-damaged house.

“The construction has gone wonderfully,” she said. “They started two weeks ago on a Monday and are putting the final touches on it today. I couldn’t be happier.”

Huszar’s home was inundated with water during the August 2016 flood. Like many, she turned to the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program for help.

The restoration has been comprehensive – new drywall, cabinets, appliances, central heat and air.

“I certainly have no complaints. The case workers helped me through the process and the construction folks couldn’t have been any better.”

Huszar’s flood story is like that of many. During the middle of the night water entered her home. Before she could decide what steps to take, the trickle became a current and then a surge.

“I’d never seen anything like it. Hope I never do again,” she said.

After the final inspection of Huszar’s repair work, she will begin the task of moving back into her home. It is a move she looks forward to.

“I hope to have everything put up by the weekend. I just thank God that I will be back in my house.”

Homeowner Spotlight: The Meyers

GREENWELL SPRINGS, LA – The Meyer family built their home two years before it flooded in August 2016. Located in a Greenwell Springs neighborhood where flood insurance was not required, George and Helen had to rely on their own resources to rebuild.

A family member who was also a retired contractor performed most of the repairs, but as often happens after a natural disaster to families without flood insurance, the Meyers’ were unable to stretch their FEMA funds far enough to finish the rebuild.

“Our home was certainly livable and some rooms were complete,” said George Meyer. “But there were several areas where we ran out of supplies or didn’t have the budget to finish.” For a relatively new home it was disheartening for the Meyers and their two sons. “We were kind of stuck.”

Once he heard about the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program, Meyer went to the program website and reviewed the guidelines. Confident they would qualify, Meyer completed his application and submitted documents online.

Upon learning their application was moving forward, the Meyers chose the program-managed contractor option for remaining work in addition to the option to be reimbursed for work already completed. Once the Meyers received their award and signed their grant agreement, Restore Louisiana contractors spent four days on a variety of tasks in the house – finishing sheetrock, hanging door frames, installing baseboards, and painting.

“I came home the first day and was surprised to see how much had been accomplished,” said Meyer. “They had done three days worth of work in one day. My first thought was ‘wow’.”

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the Restore Louisiana program has exceeded my expectations,” said Meyer.

Homeowner Spotlight: Peggy Ott

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Ott family has owned land in the Denham Springs area for generations. The house Peggy Ott lives in was built in 1994 and had never flooded prior to August 2016.

“We had three feet of standing water in the house and had to leave by boat,” Ott said. After the flood, Ott lived in a camper on the property for several months. “I say that we went from camping outside to camping inside since we were living in the house while repairs were being made.”

After a negative experience with a contractor Ott hired to help with repairs after the flood, she was excited to learn that the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program offered a program-managed option to complete the construction process, “I thought that was a blessing right there,” said Ott.

After receiving notice she qualified for the program, Ott said crews came out and took measurements, and estimated the work would take about two weeks. Construction began Oct. 13. “They’ve accomplished so much and I’m glad I chose the program contractor,” said Ott.

“I couldn’t have asked for better people,” said Ott. “I trust them and the work they’re doing.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Shardrica Augustus

BATON ROUGE, La. – Shardrica Augustus readily admits she gave her caseworker “hell” but couldn’t be any more pleased with the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program.

“She was professional and never got upset,” she said, reflecting on her interactions. “Every time I asked for something, she got back to me. She never put me off.”

Augustus’ home in the Park Forest neighborhood of Baton Rouge had three feet of water in it during the August 2016 flood. She and two of her three children were out of the home until November when the Shelter at Home program made it habitable for their return. Her third child is a student at LSU.

An employee of the Louisiana Department of Health, Augustus completed her homeowner survey in April and submitted her assistance application as part of Phase 3 in June. She received notice of her award in August, and her home restoration was completed in October.

Augustus said her caseworker continually kept her informed throughout the process and offered encouragement when she became discouraged.

“It was that wait,” she proclaimed. “But in the end I would have to say I had an awesome experience. Even the construction crew did a great job. The people they sent to my home came to work every day, all day.”

Augustus said her neighbors were impressed by the construction crews’ diligence and attention to detail.

She adds, “They became like family, and I’m very pleased with the job they did.”

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.