Plaquemines Parish pushes for assistance for flood victims

Published: Sep. 28, 2012 at 7:56 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2012 at 7:59 PM CDT
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Debris removal in front of Marcus Rieffel's Braithwaite home (Jessica Holly)
Debris removal in front of Marcus Rieffel's Braithwaite home (Jessica Holly)

Braithwaite, La. - Flood victims in Braithwaite continue gutting their homes, but many aren't sure what'll come after that.  Their next step may depend on the parish's push for help from the state.

Marcus Rieffel is just now getting started on gutting his Braithwaite home. He works for Entergy New Orleans. His job has kept him away and busy for weeks.

Friday, he got the help he needed. Co-workers from Entergy New Orleans came out to kick the clean-up into high gear.

"That's my family. That's what we do," said Rieffel speaking of his co-workers.

This is the second time he's gutted his house. It took on several feet of water after Katrina. He says this time, though, dealing with his insurance company is even more difficult.

"I mean really?" he said. "Look at my house. Help me! That's what I paid you for. I paid my premiums."

So what's next for these folks and what are their options?  That's what Plaquemines Parish Officials are trying to figure out right now.

Benny Puckett is the grant administrator for Plaquemines Parish.  He says he's been meeting with state officials from the Office of Community Development.  The parish is looking for funding to assist residents with two options: home elevation or buyout.

"We are trying to find funding that will assist the family in their decision is," said Puckett.

He says funding is likely, especially since there are avenues already available after any disaster. Those include Community Development Block Grant and Hazard Mitigation Grant money.

While Rieffel says his family hasn't made a decision as to what the next step will be, he did say, "I don't trust that they're going to build a levee. And how long is it going to take you to raise your house?  Next year, this could happen again."

Puckett says there is no concrete date on when the financial assistance might be available. Once it is available, he says, the parish will launch a public awareness campaign to let the community know how to apply for assistance.