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Flood victims waiting on Restore LA reimbursement checks

BATON ROUGE - Thousands of flood victims are still waiting on Restore Louisiana for help. The process for one Baton Rouge man has been less than satisfactory.

When Karl Denino signed up for Restore Louisiana in April, he had high hopes. But he says it's done nothing except give him a hard time. Denino's home is completely put back together following the August 2016 flood. He called 2 On Your Side because he was told he'd have to wait three to four weeks for a final inspection and reimbursement check.

"I've been over there 13 times," he said. I've talked to eight different people."

Denino says he was approved early on for Restore Louisiana, in phase one. In August, he was told he'd be reimbursed for $28,000 for construction already completed and another $3,453 for work that still needed to be completed. He opted to hire his own contractor and the work was 100 percent complete last week.

"I went there to get the money to pay the contractor, they just laughed about it," he said.

Last week, he says a Restore Louisiana representative wrote him an IOU complete with hearts for the dots. Denino didn't find the humor in that.

Each time Denino went to visit the Restore Louisiana office, he says he was told he'd have to wait another seven to ten days to hear anything. He says that time has come and gone and had to take out a loan to pay off his contractor.

"So now I'm in debt instead of being helped, hello?" said Denino.

Friday, 2 On Your Side first inquired about Denino's case to Restore Louisiana. Monday afternoon, Denino says an inspector came to his home for a final inspection. He also received a call from Restore to make an appointment to close out his case and he hopes to receive a check soon. While he's thrilled, Denino knows he's not the only one going through this long process. He doesn't think people should have to wait like he has.

Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbes tells 2 On Your Side, the process for homeowners to receive reimbursement has recently changed. The money will now be given to homeowners sooner, some of the award given at 50 percent and the rest at 100 percent completion.

While the process is slow, Forbes says the recent disasters have put a significant dent in the progress.

"We've lost at least 40 inspectors in the last few weeks since Harvey," said Forbes.

Inspectors average one house a day.

As of the end of last week, 1,097 homeowners have received grant awards totaling $26.1 million through the homeowner assistance program.

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