Rebuilding in Plaquemines slowed by FEMA maps - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Rebuilding in Plaquemines slowed by FEMA maps


Port Sulphur, LA - Jade Nichols wishes she could hate it.

"I wish this wasn't home to where we could actually just pack up and leave and not have regrets and just go somewhere else," she says.

Nichols' home near Port Sulphur took on seven feet of water during Hurricane Isaac.

She and her husband decided to rebuild and applied through the parish for federal money to elevate the house.

Nichols has been waiting for a response for months.

"They sent me an email that I had to get three different elevation companies," says Nichols. "I did all of that, sent all that back up to them and that was the last thing I've heard."

There's more than $8 million available to either buyout or elevate homes flooded by Hurricane Isaac but Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser says the process is painfully slow.

The payouts, when they come, will be limited to $150,000 per household.

"This $150,000 either to elevate or buy you out could be the difference in you being able to start over in another parish or in a safer area in this parish or could be the difference in helping you elevate your home," says Nungesser.

But there's another problem slowing the rebuilding process.

Plaquemines plans to challenge FEMA's revised maps, which call for massive increases to flood insurance premiums for homes not raised to a certain height.

"A lady was in here the other day saying, 'I want to rebuild. I've got my foundation, How high do I build?'" says Nungesser. "Right now, the answer is 19 feet. If we're successful at lowering the storm surge, we may get that down several feet but I can't tell her that for sure today."

Even if she gets the money to elevate, Nichols says it won't come close to covering the cost.

The cheapest estimate she got was $245,000. That would only raise her home eight feet.

So she's preparing to spend another hurricane season on the ground.

"They kept saying it wasn't going to be that bad, it wasn't going to be that bad and I took absolutely nothing out of this house," says Nichols. "We lost everything that we owned. everything. There was nothing that could be saved in here. It's too emotional, it really and truly is."

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