Homeowners left in limbo over whether to elevate their homes
BATON ROUGE- Estimates indicate hundreds if not thousands of homeowners are in various stages of limbo, waiting to see if their homes need to be elevated. For those waiting, their recovery is stymied, as they wait to find out details from local and federal governments.
The hard hit Centurion Place Subdivision is one of the areas where residents may have to elevate their homes. The damage there is extensive and many homeowners are worried they won't be able to afford it.
82-year-old Richard Ulrich is still mourning the death of his long-time wife. He remembers her with only a few pictures he managed to salvage from the historic flood he narrowly escaped from. The happy couple lived in the Centurion Place Subdivision since 1981.
"It was built above the flood plain of 1981," Ulrich said. "We never thought we've have any problems. When the floods were in here in 1983, we didn't have a drop of water in here."
Tonight, Ulrich and dozens of his neighbors aren't sure what to do. His long time home is gutted. Inside, he bought Sheetrock and supplies to rebuild, but he doesn't know if he can.
"I'm waiting for someone to give me a decision on whether I'm allowed to rebuild or raise the house or what the story is," Ulrich said.
City leaders in Baton Rouge say anyone who flooded is urged to get a permit from the permit office. At that point they'll send inspectors out and make a determination if your home needs to be elevated.
We requested an interview with someone from the city, but they did not get back to us in time. Back in Centurion Place, Ulrich isn't sure what will happen next. Many of the older homes are far too low in accordance with the base flood elevation to rebuild. Many had water exceeding half of the homes' fair market value.
"It's tough," Ulrich said.
Ulrich gets through each day by remembering the better ones.
"I was in the Marine Corps," Ulrich said. "I was overseas. We went with a convoy to Korea, Japan and built the first Marine brigade in Hawaii. It was a good life."
But, tonight he's stuck waiting for the very government he so proudly served to give him straight answers.
"The first thing I'd say is start making up their mind about what they're going to do," Ulrich said. "Are they going to condemn the houses? Are they going to ask them to raise them? What can be done so people can move forward with their life?"
FEMA says if you have questions about your home's elevation and whether it's below the base flood elevation, you need to contact your parish flood plain manager. In Baton Rouge that number is 225-389-3196.