NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A blighted home in New Orleans East could finally see new life. An EF 3 tornado tore through the house over a year-and-a-half ago. Since then, it’s fallen deep into disrepair. Neighbors say it has brought down property values, and a number of code violations are pending with the city.
“This house was actually gutted right down the middle,” said New Orleans East resident Richard Vallas as he points at a home that is now repaired.
Vallas and his brother had just finished breakfast when an EF 3 tornado hit New Orleans East in February 2017.
"We were fortunate. We lost all the shingles off our roof. My Volvo was destroyed," said Vallas.
Others weren't so lucky. The storm slammed some homes, leaving them in ruins.
“He said the roof fell in on him, but he heard it coming and dove under his bed. He was under a mattress,” Vallas explained.
Vallas says the man at 4691 Lancelot Drive was okay, but the house was virtually leveled.
That was over a year and a half ago.
"I haven't seen anybody do anything with the house since the storm," said Vallas.
In November 2017, the city opened a blighted property case on the home, slapping it with three violations. Three months later, another inspection revealed another 33 violations, from weeds and plant growth to rodent harborage, broken doors, rafters and more.
While other homes in the neighborhood are long since repaired, this one only falls further into decline.
“You always glance at these blighted properties when you’re driving down the street, and you wonder who is going to do something about them,” Vallas said.
One neighbor says he is.
The man didn’t want to talk on camera but tells FOX 8 the property value of his home dropped nearly $80,000 since the storm, and blames the blighted property next door. Now, he wants to fix it up. The homeowner confirms he’s in negotiations with his neighbor to buy the land.
It’s welcome news for residents.
"It'd be great," said Vallas. "There are hundreds of these in the city since Katrina, but you have to do it one at a time, right?"
Vallas tells us at least two homes in the neighborhood are new since Katrina.