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What to expect while rebuilding after a storm

Lake Charles Debris pickup
Posted at 5:32 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 19:07:09-04

The recovery process after a major storm is often long and exhausting. Many people find themselves unsure where to start.

One year later, some people who had homes and businesses devastated by Hurricane Laura are finally back in Lake Charles, where some parts of the city look like they're frozen in time.

"You still see a lot of debris, a lot of blue tarps, and damage on homes," contractor David Bonilla said.

People living in southeast Louisiana are seeing similar scenes following Hurricane Ida. According to FEMA, more than 40,000 homes were destroyed by Ida.

While there's an urgency for some to rebuild, Bonilla says homeowners should not expect the construction to begin for several months after filing an insurance claim.

"I know other contractors say it's taken anywhere from two [months] to a year," Bonilla said.

He says after a claim is made, an adjuster comes to the home. Then it's up to your insurance company to approve the cost. Bonilla warns homeowners to not start the demolition without that approval.

"The insurance can come back and say we didn't approve of this, we're not paying for this," explained Bonilla.

"There's a thousand inspectors in the field right now in southern Louisiana inspecting homes. They have a lot of work to do, they're working very fast," Patrick Boland, Media Relations Specialist for FEMA, said.

The FEMA process is similar, according to Boland. After a home inspection through FEMA and approval, construction can begin.

"You can proceed with the repairs yourself, just make sure you document all the damage, and preferably have your inspector on site when you do that," Boland explained. "Then you can proceed. FEMA may take longer to make a decision. Keep all of your receipts. When your claim is completed, you'll be paid off."

Boland says it's important to keep in touch with both your insurance company and FEMA. Remember, if your claim is denied with FEMA, you may just need to submit more documents or proof. You can appeal the denial within 60 days. For more information on how to appeal, click here.