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Miscommunication may force rebuilding flood victim to start over from scratch

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BATON ROUGE - As people rebuild from last year's flood, they're making sure all their paperwork is in order. One woman says she's done that, but the City-Parish says she missed a step. That step is halting her from pulling permits to proceed with the rest of the work she needs to do.

Rhenda Love has put up her walls and she's ready to move onto the flooring. But the City-Parish says she missed an electrical inspection and Love fears she'll have to take down those new walls and start over.

Love recently received an email from Restore Louisiana. She's qualified for solution two and chosen to manage construction herself, which requires specific permits to be pulled. Love hit an unexpected roadblock recently when she went to retrieve work permits and has been told she can't pull an electrical permit because she didn't have an inspection prior to the walls going up.

The problem dates back to last year. The state tells 2 On Your Side Shelter at Home removed and replaced all 40 water-damaged receptacles in Love's home. She says another contractor replaced wiring to an electrical panel. Love was under the impression that's all that needed to be done and says the City-Parish told her she didn't need an inspection because Shelter at Home did the work. Paperwork from Love's permit inspection history shows a canceled electrical rough-in on February 24, 2017.

Now, Love fears the story has changed.

"You're telling me I missed something that you told me I didn't have to have," she said.

The City-Parish tells 2 On Your Side Love now has three options. Her Shelter at Home contractor can sign an affidavit saying it's responsible for the work, Love must sign the affidavit ultimately forfeiting her homeowner's insurance, or she can tear out the walls and have the City-Parish perform an electrical rough-in inspection.

"If I don't sign it, then I need to tear down the walls in my house, all of them, so they can come in and redo it," she said.

At this point, going in reverse is not an option but moving forward is proving to be difficult.

"I can't move forward with restore who's ready to help me, who's ready to, you know, help me with this 30 percent that we have left," said Love.

The City-Parish says Shelter at Home invoked emergency work under the Stafford Act. It did not permit or inspect that work.

Director of City Development Carey Chauvin says by signing an affidavit, the homeowner or contractor "holds the taxpayers harmless from what we did not inspect." It's an option that's been in use for 20 years and has been used for quite a few flood survivors.

Chauvin tells 2 On Your Side Love's inspection was originally rejected. It was then canceled on February 24, 2017, because City-Parish inspector Manuel Tisdale went out to the home and looked through the window to find the walls had already been put in place. The City-Parish says Love was never told she did not need an inspection.

Love stands by what she was told and is currently weighing her options. She was able to reach her Shelter at Home contractor and is waiting to hear more from him.

    

    

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