Nearly 1 month later, NOE tornado victims still waiting

Nearly 1 month later, NOE tornado victims still waiting

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Nearly one month after the New Orleans East tornado, desperation and despair is starting to set in for many.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is now talking about getting more assistance, but many wonder if it'll come soon enough.

Larry Duplessis is beyond lucky.

"This one hit me, and slammed me against the wall," said the New Orleans East resident.

He put bars on the door to keep burglars out, not knowing that they would one day save him from a tornado.

"I took my hand, and did this - my body was straight up," said Duplessis.

He survived the tornado last month but now he and his wife feel as if they are in the midst of a new storm.

"I don't think I should be at this point, when we're paying them for over 20 years," said Duplessis.

The family is tens of thousands of dollars apart on what they believe their home needs and what insurance wants to pay.

"It has misplaced us, we're devastated, it's hard," said his wife, Paulette.

Across Chef Highway it's another story.

"I'm not on the wrong side of the track, I'm on the wrong side of Chef Highway," said Kenny Swanzy.

Swanzy also rode out the tornado in his home, which is also his business.

"It almost sounded like a high-speed train had derailed, it was horrifying," said Swanzy.

He said it took three days for help to come.  But unlike his neighbors, Swanzy had no insurance.

"My insurance was more than my bank note," said Swanzy.

Because he lives where he works, he's not eligible for FEMA assistance, and even the SBA turned him down for a low-interest loan.

"I'm in that terrible spot where I can't afford to stay and I can't afford to move," said Swanzy.

There's no post-Katrina type of Road Home program to help homeowners rebuild, and while Louisiana's congressional delegation says it wants to help, there's a problem.

"It's sad and unfortunate, but it's a problem we can fix," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the state still has $1.7 billion in the bank for August flood relief, and his colleagues wonder why.

"Get the money to the people," said Kennedy.

Groups like St. Bernard Project are now helping with debris cleanup. But many need more.

"It's just hard right now, just hard," said Paulette Duplessis.

"No one has been back here to ask if I'm okay," said Swanzy.

But survivors press on, committed to stay.

Kenny Swanzy's friends have set up a website to help him recover. Habitat for Humanity and the St Bernard Project also say they will soon begin helping the uninsured and under-insured rebuild. They urge anyone needing who want to help, or need help to check out the websites here and here.

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