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Know your disaster rights, before it's too late

If you're a homeowner in Louisiana, you might want to listen up. Knowing your rights before a disaster happens, may help you with recovery.
Posted at 9:50 PM, Jun 12, 2024

Home is where the heart is.

So, why not make sure it's protected?

Disaster Unit Managing Attorney Hailey Barnette from Acadiana Legal Corporation is warning homeowners about disaster recovery.

While we're less than two weeks into hurricane season, Barnett said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

"In Louisiana, we have a lot of heir property issues," Barnett said. "Heir property is a fancy term for property that has been passed down through the generations without the necessary legal work."

If you're living in a family home, it might be a good idea to ensure you know who has record ownership for the property.

Barnett said this is the first step in the disaster recovery process and can help ensure you have access to money for repairs.

"You also want to see if the state or the city or the parish has a damage survey," Barnette said. "A damage survey helps assess how much damage and what the level of damage is after a storm."

While assessments may vary, Barnette reassures her clients that as the amount of damage increases, the likelihood of receiving state, federal, local and or parish funding increases also.

In early May, 87-year-old Jovita Taylor experienced not only significant storm damage to her home, but to her two pick-up trucks and handicap ramp too.

As a result, her daughter, Althea was surprised when she contacted her mother's home owner's insurance for help.

"My mom always handled her own bills," Althea said. "Now that we’re having to help her, we’re just finding out. When I contacted the insurance, that’s how we found out that she only has fire insurance."

Limited coverage means limited options.

The Taylors said they had to rely on volunteers and Good Samaritans in their community to recover.

If you'd like to know who has record ownership over your home, please visit the tax assessor's website for the parish you live in.

Or, contact an attorney before you're in need of disaster recovery assistance.

Experts told KATC it's better to be proactive, rather than reactive and to be aware of your disaster coverage.