Homeowner Spotlights

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.

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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Emma Johnson

BATON ROUGE, La. — When Emma Johnson returned to her home immediately after the 2016 flood, she was dismayed to find 4 feet of water. “We didn’t know what to think,” she said. Today, she is happy to be in her repaired home thanks to the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program.

“They did a real good job,” she said, praising the contractor and workers who completed the work.

A friend told Johnson about the Restore Louisiana Program and she completed her survey over the phone. She is appreciative of the caseworker who helped her. “She was very nice and walked me through the process,” says Johnson.

Johnson chose to use the program-managed construction option because she had confidence the work would be completed in a reasonable timeframe. “I knew they were professionals,” she said.

The work done on Johnson’s home included replacing the pantry, several doors and floor moldings throughout, as well as painting much of the home’s interior. On the outside of the home, Restore Louisiana replaced insulation around the hot water tank and provided a complete exterior wash.

Johnson says, “I would encourage people to go through with the Restore process; it was definitely a benefit for me.”

“I’m just so glad to be back in the house!”

Homeowner Spotlight: Viola Wilson

BATON ROUGE, La. — Viola Wilson is truly celebrating the fact that her home has been rebuilt by the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program.

While the work was extensive – new carpet and flooring, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and doors – Wilson says the Restore Louisiana contractor made everything easy for her.

“They always let me know when they were coming and when they weren’t. They worked every day but Sunday, and got everything done quickly,” said Wilson.

Prior to her participation in the Restore Louisiana Program, Wilson hired contractors to begin work on her home, but she experienced frustration in dealing with them.

Wilson’s daughter found out about the Restore Louisiana Program on Facebook and helped her mother complete the application process. Wilson chose the program-managed construction option and was happy not to have to worry about managing the construction process.

“I enjoyed working with the contractors because they asked for my input. I was able to choose from multiple options and make choices about cabinets and colors that I preferred,” said Wilson. She calls the work “very professional.”

Wilson says she encourages any homeowner who has experienced flood damage to go through with the Restore Louisiana process. “Take the leap of faith and be patient,” she says. “I’m glad I did.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Mary Earthly

BATON ROUGE, La. — Mary Earthly was at home preparing for her mother’s funeral when the floodwaters headed towards her house in August 2016. With her home full of family and friends, it took three trips in an inflatable swimming pool to get everyone to safety. Children were evacuated first, and 63-year-old Earthly was one of the last ones to leave the property. Today, she is grateful to Restore Louisiana for helping her get back into her home.

Earthly remembers that as the water kept rising, she and her family had to leave quickly. She returned to her home a week later to find that she had lost everything, and the home was completely unlivable due to water damage and mold. The walls were taken down to the studs to begin the process of restoring the structure.

After using FEMA funds to do some of the construction work, Earthly heard about the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program on her local television news. “When I found out about it, I called instantly, and I’m so glad I did,” she said.

Earthly chose solution one, the program-managed option in which Restore Louisiana sends crews to the home to complete the eligible repairs. “I didn’t have to worry about finding and paying a contractor or looking for materials – Restore took care of it all,” she says. She praised the contractor who came to her home. “I was crying,” she says. “He was very supportive and told me he was going to help me. And he did.”

Restore Louisiana finished interior work on the walls, floors, cabinetry, and doors as well as the necessary electrical work. In addition, Restore cleaned and painted the exterior of the house. Earthly was thrilled to get back into her home two and a half weeks after the start of the work.

Earthly’s advice to homeowners who are still dealing with flood damage? “If you want to get back into your house, you should contact Restore!” She says she was patient with the program, and her patience definitely paid off.

Homeowner Spotlight: Leon Dauterive

TICKFAW, La. — “I’m able to live in my home again, and that’s everything,” says Leon Dauterive, who suffered extensive damage to his house in a 2016 flood. Restore Louisiana helped Dauterive get back into his home by completing repairs including replacing doors, flooring and appliances, as well as some interior and exterior painting.

Dauterive completed some work using funds received from FEMA, but after those funds had been exhausted, repairs were still needed for him to get back into his home. He learned about the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program on the news and went to the Housing Assistance Center in Hammond, where he completed an application and was assigned a case manager. “She was a very pleasant lady and always very responsive, returning my calls quickly and keeping me updated on my status,” he said.

Dauterive chose the program-managed option to complete repairs to his home. “I was very pleased with the work and the courtesy of the people, especially their willingness to move it forward as quickly as they could to get me back into my home.”

“Once they started the work, within two and a half weeks my work was done,” said Dauterive. “They have a good system.”

Dauterive was so pleased with his experience with Restore Louisiana that he told neighbors about it and encouraged them to pursue their options through the program. “You are hurting yourself if you don’t contact Restore and see what they can do for you,” he says.

“They definitely do care about getting people back into their homes,” he said.

Homeowner Spotlight: Bessie Bolden

MONROE, La. — Bessie Bolden lived in her home for more than 35 years and never experienced flooding – that is, until March 2016. Thankfully, first responders helped her get to her daughter’s house on higher ground, but when the family returned a few days later, her home was completely unlivable.

They began work on repairs and Bolden moved back in about a year after the flood, but the home was far from complete. When Bolden’s daughter, Barbara, heard about Restore Louisiana, she completed a survey for her mother on the Program’s website and began working with the case management team as soon as Bolden’s application was made available.

“Our case manager was most helpful,” said Barbara. “She let us know everything that we needed to provide in terms of documentation and guided us through the process.”

Restore Louisiana contractors have now completed repairs to Bolden’s home, including the interior walls and doors, and completely redid one of her bathrooms.

“Without the help that we got through Restore, I don’t know when everything would have been completed,” Barbara said. “My mother and I are extremely grateful.”

Barbara is now reaching out to other family and friends who were affected by the devastating floods of 2016 to tell them about the Restore Louisiana program.

“I was very concerned about how it would go, but they did a good job,” Barbara said. “We are very, very thankful, and I am encouraging others to see what Restore can do for them.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Floy Cook

BATON ROUGE, La. (WBRZ) — A woman affected by the August 2016 flood is thankful for a construction crew and the help of Restore Louisiana.

The crew showed up to her flood-damaged property with an excavator Monday morning to tear down the dilapidated house.

2 On Your Side has been following Floy Cook’s story since last June when she said she only had one option, which was Restore Louisiana. The roller coaster she’s been for the last year and a half is almost over and she’s one step closer to going home.

As Cook watches the destruction, she thinks back on a happier time in her neighborhood. “It was one of the first houses built out here,” she said.

She’s lived in her Baton Rouge neighborhood for nearly 50 years. When the flood hit, it destroyed the property she’d raised her family in.

Monday, she said the wait has all been worth it. Her flood-damaged house is one of 70 that are being torn down and reconstructed through the Restore Louisiana Program. The damaged structure was torn down and the land will be cleared to make way for a new foundation and house.

Restore Louisiana reconstructs homes when the cost of repair is 80 percent or more of the house value pre-storm.

“Once we get to 80 percent, it becomes way more economical to just start over,” said Director of the Office of Community Development Pat Forbes.

Once it’s complete, Cook’s new 1074 square foot house will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms with energy efficient heating and air conditioning. Restore Louisiana developed a standard price per square foot of $78 for home reconstruction. Cook’s home will be in the $75-80,000 range.

Restore Louisiana says getting to the reconstruction process was not easy. Market conditions were analyzed to develop a price that’s fair to homeowners and meets federal standards. Restore says it will likely have more reconstruction projects as it continues the process.

Restore says it has money for all 27,000 applicants and the whole point of the program is to get people back in their homes and help neighborhoods bounce back.

Building a house from scratch is a big process. Between repairs, reimbursements and reconstruction through the Restore program, reconstruction is the most complicated. While Restore says it’s moving along, it knows it isn’t moving fast enough.

It’s why Cook is so thankful her day has finally arrived.

“I don’t know what I’d done without them,” she said.

Restore Louisiana says it will take about six months to complete each reconstructed home. The program has five primary contractors that have hundreds of contractors working for them state-wide.

Homeowner Spotlight: Barbara Pierce

BAKER, La. — Barbara Pierce says Restore Louisiana not only restored her house – it restored her sense of peace and enabled her to feel truly at home again after more than a year of being out of her home after the August 2016 flood.

“They use the word ‘Restore,’ but that’s an understatement,” she says. “It was really a restoration for a new life for me. I am back in my home.”

Because the house was not in a designated flood zone, Pierce never expected it to flood, but as the waters continued to rise, she realized that this flood was unlike anything she’d seen before. Pierce was brought to safety by a neighbor’s son and lived with her daughter for the next few months.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided funding that allowed Pierce to do some basic work, but when she moved back in, she was still without windows, doors or cabinets. She couldn’t afford to do any additional work on her own.

Pierce heard about Restore Louisiana from a friend and went to the website to begin the process. She was soon speaking with a case manager from Restore Louisiana who helped her complete the application.

“They were most helpful,” said Pierce. “They called to keep me updated every week, and I really appreciated that.”

When the contractors began working on her home, Pierce was thrilled with the quality of the work and the options they gave her in choosing her materials. Pierce says that the workers were courteous and the process went smoothly.

Restore Louisiana completely refurbished two bathrooms and installed new floors, doors, windows and closets. Pierce is especially pleased with her new kitchen, which the program equipped with a new stove, refrigerator and dishwasher.

Barbara urges her friends to go online and fill out the survey for themselves. “Restore was a lifesaver for me,” she says, “I’m constantly telling people about it!”

Homeowner Spotlight: The Phares Family

LAFAYETTE, La. — After living in a camper on their property for more than a year following the August 2016 flood, Beau Phares and his family are excited to be back in their home now that Restore Louisiana has helped them complete repairs.

As the floodwaters rose in the Lafayette area, Phares was able to move his wife and three young daughters to a neighbor’s house on higher ground. He stayed behind to salvage the few personal items he could.

After the flood, Phares used FEMA funds to complete some repairs, but those funds did not cover all the costs of repair – not to mention what he had spent out of his own pocket. Phares heard about the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program through family and friends, and he began speaking with case managers in Lafayette who guided him through the process.

“They did a great job. When I had questions, they answered them. I can’t imagine how many people were calling them on a daily basis, but they were always patient and helpful and took time with me,” he said.

Phares was eligible to receive both reimbursement for the work already completed and funds to complete the remaining repairs. He chose Solution 2, allowing him to manage the construction himself.

“The first room I fixed was my three little girls’ room,” Phares said. “I didn’t tell them it was finished; I just told them to help me with something in the house. The look of excitement on their faces when they saw their room back to normal was worth all the work at night and on the weekends.”

He says of the Restore Louisiana program, “It’s definitely worth your time. It helps to soften the financial blow of being in this situation. Just trust the program. As much of a struggle as this situation was, it made us a stronger family. We didn’t let it break us; we let it build us.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Joann Gosa

BAKER, La. — Joann Gosa, who teaches at a preschool in Baker, was at work on August 12, 2016, when she received a call that her neighborhood was flooding. She hurried home to find water rising outside her home and quickly saved a few personal items before the water began flowing into her house.

When she returned a few days later, she was shocked to see her home in such a state of disrepair.

“The damage was unbelievable,” said Gosa. “Dirt and mud were everywhere, and the smell was awful… Once I got past the crying part, I got to work.”

She lived with her daughter over the next few months as she began the repair process. When one of the parents at Gosa’s school told her about Restore Louisiana and encouraged her to apply, she went home that very night and completed the survey.

Because she was already working with a contractor she trusted, Gosa chose Solution 2, which is the homeowner-managed construction option. She was pleased with her Restore Louisiana case manager, who told her exactly how things were going to proceed.

“Everything she said was going to happen – that’s what happened,” said Gosa. “No surprises.”

Restore Louisiana reimbursed Gosa for the extensive repairs already completed, including walls, kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, baseboards and floors, and assisted her with a few remaining repairs. Gosa is now relieved and happy to be back in her finished home.

“I really appreciate all of the people who were willing to help me,” said Gosa. “They were patient, they were very understanding, and they made sure I fully understood the process.”

Gosa has told several friends about the program and encouraged them to contact Restore.

“If there is help out there, don’t be ashamed to take it. Restore Louisiana is there to help you.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Troy Carter

BATON ROUGE, LA — As the rain kept falling and waters rose on Saturday, August 13, 2016, Troy Carter hoped his home would be spared. He and his wife had taken in their son, daughter-in-law and grandson because their home had already flooded.

Before much longer, a team of firefighters came through the neighborhood encouraging families to evacuate. The water was already too high for them to drive to a safer location, so they walked a mile and a half to the front of their neighborhood where they were picked up by rescue workers. The Carters were able to get to Troy’s mother’s home, but they soon needed to evacuate from that location as well. Together, the four generations finally settled at a friend’s house for a few days until they could rent a hotel room.

When the family was finally able to get back home, Carter was devastated to see the toll the flood had taken on his home.

“It was a disaster area,” said Carter. “There was mold, mildew, and disrepair as walls and cabinets were already collapsing from the effects of the flood.”

Carter began repairing his home but says it was barely in livable condition. When he heard about Restore Louisiana on the news, he immediately went online to fill out the survey and was soon contacted to complete his formal application.

Carter chose Solution 1, in which a program contractor completed remaining repairs. Restore contractors provided Carter and his family with new appliances, a kitchen sink, bathroom vanities, countertops, baseboards and doors. They also installed a new air conditioning unit. Carter and his wife lived in the home during the four or five days it took the crews to complete the work, and he says the process went smoothly.

“They always told me what they were going to do and how long they were going to be there,” he says. “They did a great job and I appreciate everything they did in helping us get back to a normal life.”

Carter now encourages others who were affected by the 2016 floods to contact Restore Louisiana.

“I know there are a lot of people who have still not recovered, and they should call because Restore will see you through from the beginning to the end.”

Homeowner Spotlight: The Bourque Family

MAURICE, LA — As the rain and flood waters of August 2016 bore down on the state of Louisiana, Paul Bourque was in Texas for work, unable to return home for more than a week due to closed roads and remaining floodwaters.

Thankfully, Paul’s wife and children back home were able to be rescued and taken to safety by Red Cross, but when the family finally reunited and returned home, they realized their mobile home was barely livable.

Paul and his family soon moved into a camper and began salvaging the remains of their home. Using funds received from FEMA, they were able to make very basic repairs and move back into the unit, but Paul says they did not have enough money to fix the walls, add necessary insulation, or replace the damaged air-conditioning system ducts.

When Paul saw a sign for Restore Louisiana, he immediately called and completed the initial survey. Paul later visited the Lafayette Housing Assistance Center to complete his application.

When he contacted Restore Louisiana, Paul says he was simply hoping to receive enough funds to make his damaged mobile home functional again. However, Restore Louisiana’s policy is to replace, not repair, damaged mobile homes to best serve the long-term housing needs of mobile home owners and their families, and to protect them from future environmental health hazards.

Paul said he was thrilled to hear this news because it meant that his family could purchase a brand-new home.

After bouncing between a camper and a damaged mobile home for over a year after the flood, Paul and his family are grateful to have a safe, comfortable home again.

From his initial contact with Restore Louisiana to his move-in day, the process took about six months.

“It took a little while, but it’s a good program,” Paul said. “I tell a lot of people about it. If you stick with it, you will be glad you did.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Deborah Allen

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA — Deborah Allen, like many other Louisiana homeowners, watched in disbelief as the floodwaters continued to rise into her elevated mobile home in August of 2016. Because the road into Deborah’s mobile home community was impassable for eight days, she and her son took shelter at a neighbor’s house until they were able to leave. They later moved into a friend’s home, where they stayed for several months until FEMA provided temporary housing.

When she heard about Restore Louisiana on television, she called the phone number immediately to see if she qualified for any assistance through the program. Although she was receiving temporary housing assistance from FEMA, she was still in need of a long-term housing solution as the floors, electrical outlets and walls of her mobile home were completely ruined.

Deborah was thrilled to find that Restore provided funds for replacement, rather than repair of mobile homes.

“Even if I finished repairing my existing home, I would have been concerned that we missed something; that there would still be mold or mildew left somewhere. When Restore offered me a new home, I thought it was a blessing!”

It took several months for Deborah to complete the Restore Louisiana application process, but she did not get discouraged.

“This storm was hard for me and thousands of others,” Deborah said. “I knew from the beginning of the process that I would have to be patient because there were so many people in need.”

After she received her grant award, she soon found a new single-wide mobile home that had all the features she wanted.

“I can’t say enough praises,” said Deborah about the Restore program. “The people I dealt with were wonderful – not just one or two, but all of them.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Natasha Selders

TICKFAW, LA – Natasha Selders thought she had avoided flood damage to her home on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, but she awoke Saturday to find that the floodwaters hadn’t gone down and were instead rising into her home.

Natasha contacted her brother to help move her and her three children to safety, and they stayed with her brother in Hammond for a week until they could get back home to evaluate the damage.

“The smell was bad, but we moved in and made the best of it,” Natasha said.

Natasha attempted to make repairs to her mobile home, but she says that she could not restore it to a suitable living environment for her family.

Over the next few months, Natasha received emails and phone calls from Restore Louisiana inviting her to complete the homeowner survey, but she ignored them.

“I thought they wouldn’t help me or there would be too many strings attached, but finally I decided to give it a shot,” she said.

Natasha completed the survey online, and within two weeks, a program representative came to her house to conduct the environmental review. She was assigned a case manager who helped her fill out the formal application and guided her through the process.

At times, Natasha admits that she became frustrated with the amount of documentation needed and thought about not completing the application process. But her case manager contacted her often and encouraged her to continue.

“She called me and told me I was almost there, so I listened to her and sent her what she asked for,” Natasha said.

Natasha was ultimately able to buy a new three-bedroom, two-bathroom mobile home with the funding she received from Restore Louisiana. She encourages people still recovering from the 2016 floods to contact Restore.

“To have the opportunity to get a brand-new home, without having to finance it – who could pass that up?” Natasha said. “They work with you, and it’s well worth it in the end. I have the title, and the home is mine now, so I’m very excited!”

Homeowner Spotlight: Brenda Self

GREENSBURG, LA – Brenda Self says the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program was the miracle she so desperately needed after the August 2016 flood left her mobile home damaged beyond repair.

Brenda initially saw information for Restore Louisiana on television, filled out the initial survey online, and was later invited to complete the application. She visited the Housing Assistance Center in Hammond for assistance with her application.

“They helped me, and they were very nice,” Brenda says of the program representatives she met with in Hammond. “I needed help with the application, and they broke it all down for me – they did what they needed to do to make sure I understood.”

After a damage assessment and completed application, Brenda was thrilled to hear that she would receive funds for a brand-new mobile home. This was welcome news, as she had been displaced after having to evacuate on foot during the flood and temporarily live with a friend until she had a more permanent living situation.

Restore Louisiana’s policy is to replace, not repair, mobile home units to avoid potential health and environmental hazards associated with rehabilitating flood-damaged mobile homes.

Brenda is now back home on her property with a brand-new, three-bedroom and two-bathroom mobile home unit, and she encourages all who were affected by the flood to call or go online to see if the program can help them too.

“Restore Louisiana is for real,” said Brenda. “They did a wonderful job for me!”

For more information about the program’s manufactured home policy, please click here.

Homeowner Spotlight: The Johnson Family

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA – After being ordered to evacuate his mobile home by state police during the August 2016 floods, John Johnson is grateful to return to a safe, new mobile home purchased with his Restore Louisiana grant funds.

As the floodwaters continued to rise and proved to be extremely hazardous, John and his wife were taken by boat to higher ground, and eventually took shelter at a friend’s home. After a week, they returned to find their mobile home destroyed by the floodwaters.

John saw information about Restore Louisiana on television and called to complete the homeowner survey. Shortly after, an inspector came out to assess his damaged home.

“He was very helpful. I enjoyed working with him,” says Johnson.

John visited the Baton Rouge Housing Assistance Center to complete the formal application. Fortunately, all of his important documents remained dry, and he was able to provide the documentation needed to his case manager.

“They took care of everything,” he says, “and the next thing we knew, we were approved for a new home!”

John encourages all flood-affected homeowners to complete the Restore Louisiana survey and begin the process of requesting assistance.

“The best thing you can do is be patient. It’s a good program, and at least you have the opportunity to get help. I’m sure glad I stayed with it,” he says. “If it weren’t for Restore Louisiana, we wouldn’t have a home right now.”

If you were affected by the March or August flooding of 2016, click here to get started on your Restore Louisiana homeowner survey.

Homeowner Spotlight: Grace Annette Johnson

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA – Grace Annette Johnson says the August 2016 flood was like a bad dream.

As she and her husband watched the floodwaters creep up their drive way and then recede as the day went on, they thought their home would ultimately be spared, but when they woke up on Saturday, August 13, 2016, they looked out the window to see what appeared to be a tidal wave heading toward their home.

The water submerged both of their vehicles and began pouring into their home. Grace Annette and her husband quickly evacuated, wading through shoulder-deep water to reach a rescue boat that brought them to higher ground.

“We left with the clothes on our backs, and our two dogs, and that was it,” Grace Annette said.

After two days, she and her husband returned to find major damage to their home. They began the painstaking process of repairs by tearing out sheetrock and flooring. Although the Johnsons lived in the house throughout the repair process, it was far from comfortable and certainly did not feel like home.

“We slept on an air mattress and ate out of an ice chest,” Grace Annette said.

Because the Johnsons did not have flood insurance, they used their retirement savings to make repairs to their home.

When Grace Annette saw commercials for Restore Louisiana on television, her husband encouraged her to call and ask if assistance might be available for them. She called and completed the survey over the phone.

The Johnsons were invited to complete the application and went to the Housing Assistance Center in Baton Rouge, where they were assigned a case manager, who “was understanding and made [the Johnsons] feel welcome.”

Grace Annette said she was thrilled to get a call that they had been approved for a grant award.

“When she told us what we were getting, I almost passed out! It really is a blessing,” she said.

Now Grace tells her friends and neighbors about Restore Louisiana and encourages everyone who has not already completed the initial survey to do so.

“I am proof; Restore is for real,” she says. “I’m so glad I called.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Sharon Rushing

ZACHARY, LA – After being urged by her daughter to evacuate, Sharon Rushing packed a few personal items and waded through flood waters, with her dogs in tow, to her daughter’s second-floor apartment across the street.

Once the flood waters receded, Sharon found that her mobile home was damaged beyond repair. Although she was able to salvage a few pictures and other belongings that were above the water line, she ultimately had no choice but to demolish the structure.

“It was traumatic; I had raised my children there, but it had to go,” Sharon said.

Sharon’s daughter told her about Restore Louisiana, and Sharon quickly went online to complete the initial homeowner survey.

After being invited to complete the formal application, Sharon went to the Baton Rouge Housing Assistance Center and said the program representatives she worked with were “straightforward and just as nice as they could be.”

Sharon was thrilled to receive a grant from Restore Louisiana and chose a replacement mobile home she could personalize to make it truly feel like her own. Sharon acknowledges that recovering from a disaster is a difficult process, but she is grateful to be settling into her brand-new home and finally feel like things are returning to normal.

She says her neighborhood is returning to normal as well.

“We’re like a family here on my street, and we look out for each other,” Sharon said. “But something like the flood of 2016 changes your outlook.”

“I’m definitely glad I contacted Restore. I’m very appreciative of the money that allowed me to get into a new home without a note. It’s paid for, and it’s plenty big for me.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Marie Adams

BATON ROUGE, LA – Marie Adams and her daughter went to sleep with plans to stay in their home and wait out the August 2016 flood, but they woke up to find that the floodwaters had entered their home overnight.

Rescue workers brought Marie and her daughter to a shelter where they stayed for a few days until they were able to return home and observe the damage the floods had caused.

“It was very overwhelming,” said Marie. “I cried, and then I said, ‘This too will pass.’ And I got to work immediately on cleanup and construction.”

While Marie was in the process of making repairs, she heard about the Restore Louisiana program and visited the Baton Rouge Housing Assistance Center to complete her initial homeowner survey.

“The young ladies at Restore were very knowledgeable and eager to help us,” Marie said. “They gave me regular updates, and when I had forgotten to sign something, they called me and let me know what I needed to do. They were conscientious, kind, respectful and true to their word.”

Through Restore Louisiana, Marie was reimbursed for the work she had already completed and opted to have a program contractor finish her remaining repairs.

Marie was relieved and thankful when the repairs to her home were finished and she could return to her house. At 84 years old, she said that the best part of having a stable, long-term housing solution is knowing that she will not have to be dependent on her children.

“Nothing says peace like walking back into your own home,” Marie said.

Homeowner Spotlight: Edna Wray

BATON ROUGE, LA – Edna Wray and her son frantically packed their bags and left their home during the August 2016 floods, unsure when they would be able to return. Today, she is elated to be back in her home, thanks to assistance from Restore Louisiana.

After the floodwaters receded, Edna returned home to find her home nearly destroyed. Her family and friends helped her complete imperative repairs to get her home back into a livable condition, but she still had a long way to go.

Edna heard about the Restore Louisiana program on the news but did not think she would qualify for assistance. Her daughter contacted the program on her behalf and encouraged her mother to complete an initial homeowner survey. Wray says she didn’t understand a lot about the program process at first, but her case manager worked with her to gather all necessary documentation and assist her throughout the process.

Edna chose Solution 1 and used program contractors to finish the repairs to her home. She said the contractors were diligent, professional and prompt in completing her remaining repairs.
“I’m so grateful to everybody who did so much work to get me back in my house,” Edna said. “I really appreciate it all.”

“It’s all done and I’m perfectly happy with it,” said Edna. “Restore was a life saver for me!”

Homeowner Spotlight: Robertine Collier

BATON ROUGE, LA – Robertine Collier and her three children are back in a safe, fully repaired home after experiencing extensive damage from the August 2016 flood.

“I’m grateful for Restore being there and for helping my family through the flood recovery process,” said Robertine.

As the floodwaters rose into their home, she and her family fled to safety, and even when they returned the next day, floodwaters were still chest-high. Although she was able to retrieve a few pieces of clothing, the family had to stay elsewhere until the water receded.

Once she could get back inside the house, Robertine’s co-workers helped her remove carpet and begin the process of repairing the home. During her recovery process, she saw an advertisement for the Restore Louisiana program and went online to complete a survey.

She was pleased to find that the process was simple and easy to follow. She followed up often and worked with her case manager who was able to answer any questions she had throughout the application process.

Robertine chose the program’s Solution 1 option, allowing the program’s contractors to complete her repairs. She was pleased with the contractors’ professionalism and timeliness.

“They told me what they would be doing and when they would get started. They kept me abreast of everything they were doing,” said Robertine. “Finally, I felt like I was home again. Everything was beautiful and professionally done.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Mrs. Bowlin

BATON ROUGE, LA – Mrs. Bowlin evacuated to New Orleans as the floodwaters rose into her home in August of 2016. She returned to Baton Rouge as quickly as possible to meet her husband, who remained behind to salvage what he could. The couple stayed with Bowlin’s sister until the water receded and they could return to their neighborhood.

When Bowlin returned home and saw the damage left behind by the flood, she felt overwhelmed and unsure of how to begin the journey to recovery. But, like so many who were affected by the floods, she and her husband jumped right in and began cleaning out their house with the help of family and friends. They lived in a trailer in their back yard over the next several months as they completed repairs.

During the repair process, Bowlin learned about Restore Louisiana and completed the initial survey over the phone. Program representatives then contacted her and invited her to complete her program application.

Program inspectors came to her home to see the work that had been done. They took pictures and measurements, and in a few weeks Bowlin received a call confirming that she would be reimbursed for the work she had already done. She opted for the program’s contractors to complete her remaining repairs.

“The money really helped out, because recovering from the flood was so overwhelming,” she said.

Mrs. Bowlin is relieved to be back in the house she’s called home for 14 years and advises others who are going through the Restore Louisiana application process to stick with it.

“It’s worth it. Restore Louisiana did a fabulous job and I’m so thankful for them,” she said.

Homeowner Spotlight: Leslie Viltz

LAFAYETTE, LA – Leslie Viltz had moved into a new home just prior to the August 2016 floods. “We had saved for years to build the house and to see it filled with water was devastating,” Leslie said. She and her family are thrilled to be back in their house, thanks to assistance from Restore Louisiana.

Leslie, her husband and their five children were at home during the flood as they watched floodwaters rise dangerously high. After deciding it was unsafe to stay, Leslie’s husband alerted rescue workers on their street, and the family evacuated by boat.

“It was heart breaking. All of our money had gone into building the house, and now everything was in ruins,” Leslie said.

Leslie and her husband began to clean and gut their house. They received some relief through FEMA, but still had many repairs remaining to completely restore their home. Leslie saw information about Restore Louisiana on a billboard and went online to learn more about the program. She read stories of homeowners who had already received assistance through Restore Louisiana, which motivated her to apply. She quickly completed a program survey.

“I found it to be straightforward. I knew it was a process, and I was okay with that. I was just grateful that help was coming,” said Leslie.

Leslie continued working with her case manager to complete her program application and chose to have Restore contractors complete her home under Solution 1.

“The workers were courteous and very detailed. They cleaned up after themselves, which I appreciated,” said Leslie.

“It felt great. I can’t put it into words, but it was the best feeling. Truly a blessing!” Leslie said upon being able to move back into a safe, fully restored home.

Homeowner Spotlight: John Rebstock

LAFAYETTE, LA – After receiving assistance from Restore Louisiana, John Rebstock and his family are back in their fully-restored home that was damaged by the August 2016 flood.

“I’m just so grateful this was available,” he said.

John was home with his wife and children as floodwaters rose dangerously high, so they decided to pack what they could and leave for safety. John returned home as early as possible the next day to assess the damage. Although the water had receded, he saw that he would have to replace all of his flooring and much of his sheetrock.

John’s family lived with relatives for the next few months, but he moved back into their damaged home and worked daily to complete repairs.

During his repair process, John heard about Restore Louisiana. He immediately went online to complete a program survey.

He was able to complete most of his application online and worked with his case manager to submit his supporting documentation. John was eligible for reimbursement funds for the repairs he had already completed, as well as additional funding for remaining repairs, which he opted to let the program’s contractors complete.

“Everybody I dealt with was delightful – no complaints at all,” he said. “It all seemed really straightforward to me.”

John was thrilled when his wife and children were able to move back into the home, and their lives could get back to normal.

“Be patient. It’s not going to happen immediately. There were a lot of people that flooded and need to be helped,” said John to homeowners still completing the Restore application process.

“I’m very happy, and I’m just grateful for the program, period,” he said.

Homeowner Spotlight: Dorothy Iron

BATON ROUGE, LA – Dorothy Iron was at home in August 2016 as she watched floodwaters rise and seep into her house. At the last minute, she evacuated with the help of a neighbor.

Dorothy stayed with her daughter until the floodwaters receded, and once she was able to return, she found her home in an unlivable condition. She remained with her daughter for several months after the floods, going back daily to salvage what she could.

Dorothy hired a contractor and enlisted the help of family members to begin the repair process. During this time, she learned about the Restore Louisiana program and visited her local library to fill out the initial survey on a computer. Shortly afterward, her case manager contacted her to walk her through the application process.

“They were wonderful,” she said about the Restore Louisiana employees. “They were very knowledgeable and very patient.”

Dorothy worked with her case manager during every step of her application process and was eventually awarded grant funds to reimburse her for the repairs she had completed to her home. Additionally, she chose the Solution 1 program option, allowing the program’s contractors to complete the remaining construction to her home.

“They did a lot of things I needed done, and they did a good job,” she said.

Dorothy hopes she will never go through a flood again but says she’s glad to have participated in the program. Dorothy encourages homeowners still working through the application process to keep going. “They are lovely people. It was just a good experience.”

Homeowner Spotlight: Janice Moon

EUNICE, LA – After the August 2016 floods, Janice Moon was left with the burden of not only repairing her flood-damaged mobile home, but also with repairing the home of her elderly mother who lived next door. Today, she is relieved that she and her mother are back in safe homes, thanks to Restore Louisiana.

After watching the floodwaters rise dangerously high, Janice called the fire department who rescued her and her mother in a boat. They stayed in a motel for several days until Janice could safely return and assess the damage. When Janice returned home, she discovered that both her mother’s home and her mobile home were unlivable.

Over the next few months, Janice worked to repair her mother’s home first. Janice was determined to get her mother back into her house where she would be in a familiar environment, as she suffers from dementia. This repair process left Janice frustrated and exhausted. The announcement of the Restore Louisiana program was the hope Janice needed to continue her recovery efforts.

“I immediately called and filled out the survey for my mother and myself,” she said. “I was blessed with an awesome case manager who helped us through the process.”

After completing a program application, Restore contractors began working on Janice’s mother’s house; Janice gave her mother regular updates to encourage her.

“I kept telling her, ‘I promise I’m going to bring you home’ and showed her pictures of the work that was being done,” she said.

Janice says the process was completed faster than she thought possible. She was overjoyed when her Construction Technical Advisor called to notify them that her mother’s home was complete and her mother could move back in.

Meanwhile, Janice’s case manager informed her that Janice also qualified for funding to purchase a new mobile home, as Restore Louisiana’s policy is to replace, not repair, damaged mobile homes.

“I am more than glad that I went through the program. Having mom in a clean home that is safe for her, that is the best part,” Janice said.

Homeowner Spotlight: Sandra

HOLDEN, LA – In spite of the heavy rainfall, Sandra did not think her home would flood in August 2016. She and her husband had lived there for 30 years and never experienced flood damage. However, when floodwaters left severe damage to her home, Sandra was able to rebuild with help from Restore Louisiana.

When the floodwaters reached her doorway, Sandra evacuated while her husband stayed behind decided to try and secure their home. Sandra’s husband packed what he could and left as the waters poured into their house and remained at high levels for days.

Once they were able to return home, Sandra and her husband began the rebuilding process. They made as many repairs as they could, but the unexpected expense put a significant strain on their personal finances. One day, a friend told Sandra about Restore Louisiana. She called immediately to complete a survey. Shortly thereafter, Sandra visited the Hammond Housing Assistance Center to complete her formal application.

“Everybody there was very nice and helpful,” Sandra said of the Restore Louisiana staff who helped her through the process.

Restore Louisiana provided reimbursement for the repairs she and her husband already made to their home, and program contractors completed the remaining repairs, including new walls, countertops, molding, flooring and a new bathtub.

Sandra said she was very pleased with how her home turned out.

“To think about what my house looked like after the flood, and then to see it after Restore came in, it’s just amazing,” she said. “Everything is so nice now!”

“Restore Louisiana is a great deal. They have really helped so many people,” said Sandra. “I thank God for Restore!”