More homeowners stuck on Restore La. elevation requirement
LIVINGSTON - Multiple homeowners from Livingston Parish tell 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss they're ineligible for Restore Louisiana reimbursement dollars because they didn't build their foundations high enough.
Restore Louisiana requires homeowners who are rebuilding after the August 2016 flood to build two feet above base flood elevation. This includes new mobile homes.
Collins Wheat says the parish and his flood insurance provider signed off on the elevation of his home, but Restore won't. There's a nail in a tree that shows where the so-called base flood elevation is for his property.
"You can see I elevated a foot and nine inches above what they required me to," said Wheat.
Wheat's home flooded in August 2016 and he and his wife opted to tear down and start over. They moved into their new mobile home about a year ago and dipped into their retirement savings to pay it off.
"It affects us dramatically, we can never hope to put that back into retirement," he said.
It's why he was so hopeful to be working with Restore Louisiana. For the past year, he says the process with the program went smoothly, until last month. Wheat received an email from their Restore Louisiana caseworker that said their home is about two inches too short of HUD's height requirement. He was asked to supply a quote from a contractor to elevate the home to get the walking floor to base flood elevation, plus two feet. It would be their next step to moving forward with the program.
The estimate he got was between $20,000 and $30,000. Wheat says that's about the amount he would receive in reimbursement funds from Restore Louisiana.
"After going through all that we did and then come tell me, well you're two inches too low, that's just not right," said Wheat.
The news is beyond frustrating for Wheat and his wife, but they're not alone. Wednesday, 2 On Your Side featured a homeowner in Walker with a similar issue. Brandi Hart was told by Restore Louisiana that she would have to raise her home another foot before she'd see any of her reimbursement money.
A couple that lives up the street from Wheat says they demolished their home after the August 2016 flood and purchased a mobile home. Keith and Floyd Milton moved into their mobile home in December 2016 and have been working with Restore Louisiana from the beginning. In the last month, the Milton's were told their home is about four inches short of HUD's height requirement.
Restore Louisiana tells WBRZ the two feet HUD requirement standard has been in writing since January 2017. Wheat maintains no one, not even his local municipality or parish told him anything about that this.
If they had, things would be different.
"They're making it really hard," said Wheat. "This issue here of raising my home two inches, whatever money I'm going to get from Restore, I'm just going to leave it on the table. Rather than move out of my home and go through all that again."