Laplace tornado victims look back nearly a year later with advice for NOE victims

St John Tornado Recovery 1 Year Later

LAPLACE, LA (WVUE) - It has been nearly a year since a tornado ripped through Laplace, damaging more than 200 homes, and those victims are offering advice to tornado victims in New Orleans East.

"I just feel so sorry for those people in New Orleans East, and we know what they're going through and we know what they're feeling,"  Susan St. Pierre said.

The tornado tore the roof off half of her home.

Her recovery, at times, she admits put her in a state of depression, but after countless encounters with insurance agents and contractors, St. Pierre moved back home in seven months.

"We had a lot of chaos," she said. "It was a journey, but we learned a lot of things on our journey."

The recovery from New Orleans East's EF-3 tornado is in its infancy. The damage is more widespread in the east, but the devastation just as real as it was for victims of Laplace.

"Every time you look and see this insulation or broken glass or a piece of tree branch it takes you back," Semetria Shelby said.

Mother Nature crumbled sections of Shelby's home, but after seven months, she too moved back home.

She urges anyone rebuilding to stay on top of their contractors during the construction process.

"You end up fighting with the parish. You end up fighting with the insurance company then you still have to fight with the mortgage company if you still owe them," Shelby said. "Structural damage was the key word that we fought with on top of having our estimates from our general contractors on stuff like that when it wasn't necessary to tear this house down."

But there are the unfinished stories of recovery in Laplace. Debris still hangs from trees. Some homes are protected with blue tarps, and some places are abandoned all together.

"I'm coming out of my pocket. I'm trying to get everything straight where I can get back in here," Larry Robertson said.

Robertson is still living at his brother's. He accuses two different contractors of taking money from his insurance but not finishing the work.

After $43,000, windows are still boarded. Siding is still damage and his fence incomplete.

"I'm going into a year, and I'm not even in my house yet. I've got to take my hard-earned money plus pay the bills to get back in here," Robertson said.

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