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Restore LA home reconstruction begins for 70 identified homeowners

BATON ROUGE - 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.

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