Experts host community meetings to answer rebuilding questions

Experts host community meetings to answer rebuilding questions
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Cleanup for many flood victims is well underway, but many are overwhelmed by questions of how to start rebuilding. Experts are trying to give answers with a series of "After the Flood" community meetings.

Prairieville homeowner Russell Landry has worked non-stop to gut his home since the floodwaters receded.

"Everything was covered, pretty much up to 18 inches," said Landry.

While he is almost ready for construction, that next phase may be tricky.  For one thing, Landry said he had trouble getting answers to his biggest questions like the best way to address mold.

"There are many answers and we don't know which ones are right," said Landry.

The American Institute of Architects Baton Rouge (AIA BR) is working to help find those right answers. The group is hosting a series of community meetings with a panel of experts that include city or parish officials, architects, contractors, Small Business Administrations (SBA), housing specialists, homeowners' insurance representatives, and a mortgage loan representatives.

RELATED: Links to resources for flood victims, those who want to help

Kathleen Gordon, executive director for AIA BR, explained that each homeowner can face unique challenges that need to be addressed individually.

"There's a lot of varying answers based on your personal situation as well, that's one of the reason we want to bring as many of the expert resources together that we can so we can get them answered quickly, effectively and efficiently," Gordon said.

Among the biggest questions for many homeowners, especially those without flood insurance, involves how to pay for repairs. While FEMA offers its individual assistance program, the payout is usually low and is determined by several factors including income.

Another option is the SBA and their low interest loans. SBA representative Cynthia Cowell explained they can provide a loan to business, homeowners, renters and private non-profit organizations.

Applicants also have a year to decide if they need to use the money. However, the deadline to apply for a loan for physical damage is October 13.

The experts and their organizations can also help answer questions about what's required by law when rebuilding and what may be a scam.

Four other meetings will be held from August 30 to September 1.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 5 p.m.: Louisiana State Archives in Baton Rouge
  • Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denham Springs
  • Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.: Main Library at Goodwood in Baton Rouge
  • Thursday, Sept. 1 at  6 p.m.: Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library in Baton Rouge

For an ongoing list of other community meetings related to flooding, click here.

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