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Livingston homeowners frustrated, still looking for answers following warning letters

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LIVINGSTON PARISH - The room was overflowing with frustrated Livingston Parish residents who gathered for a town hall Monday night. They were looking for answers about letters they received two weeks ago letting them know their homes were not properly assessed for damages after the flood of 2016. Now, they must raise them or demolish them.

Two weeks ago this letter came in the mail, five years after the flood of 2016 left so many devastated.

"I inherited my home, and to see us have to spend more money after we already had to redo to the whole thing, it hurts my heart that my kids have to keep living through that,” said Livingston resident Elizabeth Gillen.

Gillen is the mother of three and one of the 1,201 homeowners in Livingston Parish receiving a letter that told them changes needed to be made to their home.

"It's just an open wound it just keeps coming back with this letter,” said Gillen.

The letters say that their property is non-compliant and meets three criteria: The property is in a flood zone, the house is currently under base flood elevation and it was deemed substantially damaged in the 2016 flood.

It also says the next time they need a permit to do any work on their house, they'll be required to elevate it or be on a grant list to mitigate their property. The situation doesn't sit well with Martin's family, especially since they might have to foot part of the bill.

"All those people in there are upset and they don't want to spend the money, to do even more work,” said Gillen.

But even after hours of discussion, homeowners feel like they still haven’t got their answers.

"It was just a waste of two and half hours honestly," said Koy Martin.

The Office of Homeland Security was there to give clarity letting homeowners know they can appeal a letter.

"If they can disprove any of those three they can get knocked off the list that's the appeal," said Brandi Janes with LOHSEP.

And for those that are still on the list, Brandi says they're working on ways to get the cost covered.

"FEMA at the lowest if approved will pay 75 percent but there are programs out there that might cover 90 percent, or could cover 100 percent,” said Janes.

But residents wanted to hear from their parish president Layton Ricks because they blame the parish for the mistake, saying the letters should have gone out in 2016.

"I want to see another meeting where the parish president comes in and actually owns up to his responsibility,” said one resident.

"I would like to see the parish's response on why this wasn't addressed in the first place," said Martin.

Brandi told WBRZ that the parish president was aware of the meeting and said he would try and make it if he could. WBRZ reached out to Ricks for a comment and he did not respond.

Residents added they want in writing that if they make changes to their homes that they wouldn't have to deal with the same issues in the future.

Brandi says if she gets enough requests she will hold another town hall to answer questions.

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