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Residents in Denham Springs urged to double check rebuilding permits

8 months 1 week 4 days ago September 14, 2016 Sep 14, 2016 Wednesday, September 14 2016 September 14, 2016 6:59 PM in The Investigative Unit
Source: WBRZ
By: Chris Nakamoto

DENHAM SPRINGS- If you live in the city limits of Denham Springs and were issued a building permit by the parish, you need to stop work immediately until you get the proper permit from the city.

If you don't, it could affect your wallet. City leaders say if you don't rebuild according to ordinances where you live, it might make you ineligible if there are federal programs down the road for elevation projects or more.

Alayna Welch spent a good portion of her Wednesday morning waiting in line trying to get a permit to rebuild the home she's lived in for the past decade. Her Denham Springs neighborhood is a waste land. Flies swarm her street as animals try to eat up spoiled food. Most people here lost everything. Welch's home took on more than six feet of water. Tonight, she's worried it will likely have to be elevated.

"No straight answers, yes or no," Welch said.

Welch is among the thousands of residents inside the city limits of Denham Springs who flooded. She's now trying to recover, but isn't sure if she can. Now, there are new concerns. People who received permits to to rebuild need to give them a closer look. That's because they may have been issued by the wrong government agency.

"Livingston Parish utilized some volunteers outside the state," Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry said. "Tennessee or Kentucky that came in to help them issue permits in the parish and some of the folks crossed over into the city limits, which were issued permits from the parish which are not valid here."

The City of Denham Springs estimates at least 30 homeowners received those bad permits from the parish when those out of town inspectors came in and issued them. They are urging everyone to go to the city, request new permits, so there are no issues if federal inspectors come in and check your work.

One of the biggest questions Mayor Landry gets is whether people need to elevate. He told us today he can't get straight answers from FEMA.

"Personally, I'd say clean up your house, make sure it's clean and there's no mold," Landry said. "Get into your home and start enjoying life. We've already been through this devastating flood. This whole process could take years, let's enjoy every day."

But for many residents that's taking too much of a risk. They don't know if they rebuild if they'll be asked to elevate. For people like Welch, she doesn't have the cash to get that done.

"Just trying to figure out if i should stay or go, rebuild or if they will push me out of my home," Welch said.

Mayor Landry says, having people get new permits will protect the property owners in the future. His office will re-issue those permits to the affected homeowners when they come in. He says 90-percent of the city's structures flooded.

For more information, please visit us in person at Old City Hall, 115 Mattie St., Denham Springs; call (225) 667-7512 or visit  www.cityofdenhamsprings.com

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