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Restore Louisiana says call between applicant, caseworker all a miscommunication

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DENHAM SPRINGS - Restore Louisiana says it was all a miscommunication, after one if its applicants contacted 2 On Your Side about some information she was told by her caseworker.

Diane Kerr called 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss Tuesday after she was told she'd have to wait another three to six months before she heard back about possible grant money. It was time she could not afford.

"I thought it'd be quicker than this, it's so long," said Kerr. "I am just exhausted over it."

In August 2016, Kerr lost everything when her mobile home of 14 years flooded. She's been living in an apartment ever since, patiently waiting to hear from Restore Louisiana about her application and whether or not she can move on to the next chapter of her life.

"I mean, there's no reason why they should not be helping me," she said.

Kerr tells WBRZ she's been working with Restore since June 2017. Soon after, she found a new lot to live on in an area of Denham Springs that didn't flood. The landlord is holding the spot for her, while she secures funding to buy a new mobile home and move it there.

Six months ago, Kerr says her caseworker at the time told her to go window shopping, looking for a new mobile home valued around $45,000.

"It was a big deal to me," she said.

Kerr has been waiting all that time holding onto hope that she'd get a call with good news, but some different news came through her cell phone Tuesday.

"He says now, the only thing we got to do now is to send somebody out to check the lot," said Kerr. "He says it's going to take anywhere from three to six months. They can't hold this {lot} any longer than what they've been holding, they've been so good so far to hold it this long."

Tuesday, 2 On Your Side asked Restore about Kerr's case. It confirmed, applicants moving to a different location from the location of the flood-damaged mobile home must go through an Environmental Review (ERR) which is conducted at the new site. This is a federal requirement and verifies electrical, sewer, and other items needed for the new homeowner to move in. The program conservatively quotes a timeline for obtaining the ERR to applicants, to not overpromise in the event there are delays.

Wednesday, Restore contacted WBRZ saying there had been a miscommunication between the caseworker and Kerr. It tells WBRZ the ERR had already been started months ago and recently completed.

"It had already been in the works and is done, now we're just putting all the final pieces together to ultimately determine whether or not she'll be eligible for a grant from the program," said Restore Louisiana Program outreach manager Nick Speyrer. "We're optimistic our homeowner's going to get an answer real soon."

Wednesday afternoon, Kerr was told about the news. She's looking forward to hearing more in the coming days instead of waiting a few months.

Restore says so far more than 35,500 applications have been processed and determinations made and more than 13,500 eligible homeowners have been offered grant awards totaling $446 million. The program anticipates all damage assessments for current program applicants will be completed and grants will be determined by the end of the year.


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