|Demolition & Reconstruction of Our Home in Lakeview in New Orleans|
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© 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Ray Broussard
We completed our house rebuild and finally moved home six months ago in December 2007. Not trusting the current US Army Corps of Engineers' levee designs, we chose a raised basement cottage style home - with storage and parking on the first floor. Our living space is well above the Katrina flood line and even above sea level. Even our concrete raised basement sits above FEMA's Base Flood Elevation. We love our new house despite it being 25% smaller than our flooded and demished home.
Luckily, we were able to return to New Orleans in the middle of October 2005 (six weeks after Katrina) because our kids' school reopened and we were offered a nice place to rent in the Warehouse District. Thank you Denise, our first Post-Katrina landlord and a big thanks to our kids' school administrators for reopening one of the few schools available that Fall. Thanks to Al Petrie for renting us your renovated apartment in December 2006 just one block from our Lakeview property. You don't know how much you helped us get back in our home. Your leadership, hard work and philanthropy has been inspirational and you are one of the people that ensured the recovery of our neighborhood.
Thank you clients. I've appreciated and enjoyed each of your assignments. Please excuse the above time lapse being less than smooth. I was not able to arrange for a fixed spot from which to shoot and my setup got bumped a lot. One day I might author the much longer version.
It sure feels good to be home. We're loving life again. I have work. We had neighbors and family over for a sack of oysters a few weeks ago. Our vegetable garden is working. We feel very lucky we happen to live on such a great block with so many wonderful New Orleans loving neighbors. Thanks to my neighbors, our block is probably one of the best recovered blocks in any flood zone in town.
Most relatives, friends and neighbors are settled and getting back on track. I do miss our neighbors that died or couldn't return home.
Some people are disappointed with the pace of recovery in New Orleans, but being one of the many tens of thousands of New Orleans homeowner families who lost our home and stuff when the federal designed & built levees collapsed without even being overtopped, I am completely amazed that we managed to rebuild and return as quick as we did. There were many roadblocks on the road home. We were very lucky.
Thank you to our builder, Bent's Classic Homes. While lots of other contractors jacked up prices and never completed their work, Bent's finished the job and we got our money's worth. Bent's was courteous and gave us what we asked for when other contractors refused to consider our requests. The construction process took longer than Bent's expected, but that is normal in post-Katrina New Orleans. Thank goodness Bent's was not one of the many fly-by-night rip-off artists cheating so many of our struggling homeowners out of their recovery funds.
Thanks to Kevin at Lakeview Appraisals for your timely Louisiana certified appraisal before demolition. Without that accurate in-depth documentation we fear the Road Home Program would have low balled our compensation grant more than they did.
Thanks to the Small Business Administration, the National Flood Insurance Program, Allstate Insurance and the Louisiana Road Home Program. Without your help, we could never have rebuilt our home. My thanks are sincere, but, I do have comments. SBA, as difficult, drawn out and complicated as you were to deal with, you were the very best bureaucracy we experienced and in the end you lent us all of the money we needed to get home at a very reasonable interest rate. NFIP, you were kind of a pain, but not that bad - We got what we were supposed to from you. Allstate, dealing with you was very painful. It was particularly stressful when you tried to illegally cancel our homeowners insurance and the way you handled our flood insurance claim caused us to get a smaller Road Home Program homeowner grant. Your denial of our loss of use claim really hurt us in a time of need. Nevertheless, I do regret that time I yelled at you and called you all those names on the phone. Road Home Program, some of you should go to jail for the way you've treated Louisiana homeowners.
Thank you to all of the volunteers, locals and from all over the country, who gutted all our neighbor's houses, and are helping people rebuild. You even helped spruce up some of our neighborhood's neutral grounds. You helped keep me from losing my faith in good people. I hope we showed you a good time during your stay.
Thanks to everyone who gave to Red Cross in the Fall of 2005. We evacuated to Houston and used Red Cross money to buy pots and pans, linens, pillows, underwear, socks, shoes, book bags, chairs and other essentials that we used to take for granted. When we first returned and tried to salvage some things from our house that marinated in seven feet of salt water for weeks, Red Cross gave us ice, water, ice chest, buckets, respirators, soap, bleach, brooms and even a few meals while we worked in our moldy house in the flood zone. It was mostly a futile effort on our part, but your being there with supplies, food and sympathy are about the best memories we have of those days.
Thanks to our new breed of New Orleans activists. We're trying to fix our crime and education problems, get adequate flood protection, trying to eliminate political corruption and rebuild our city. Thank you CHAT, Levees.org, Lakeview Civic Improvement Association, the Beacon of Hope, the Flood Protection Coalition, Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans, New Orleans Bloggers, Women of the Storm, many other recovery organizations all over town, Jimmy Delery, Matt McBride and all the engineers and scientists the USACE tries to discredit. You have done more to help us than anyone can imagine. Some of our politicians are even deserving of thanks.
Thanks to all the returning musicians, chefs, artists, doctors, grocers, teachers, craftsmen, counselors and bartenders.
Thank you to our family and friends. We wouldn't be home without your help and support. I wish we had been in a better position to help you more. Things are looking up.