Vietnam veteran pleads for help to rebuild hurricane-ravaged home
LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - There are still plenty of people in the Lake Area who have not recovered from the hurricanes of 2020.
One is Reggie Fontenot who, 18 months later, appears to be at square one.
Fontenot is beyond frustrated at what he’s been through for the last year and a half.
It’s a familiar story since the storms: those with too much damage to afford to fix it themselves but, allegedly, not enough to qualify for assistance.
Fontenot lives in one room of his 85-year-old mother’s house in Lake Charles.
He cannot understand why he can’t get the help he needs to rebuild his house on Ling Road.
“Here’s my kitchen. My front door is here. There’s your sidewall, your back wall, and the ceiling - the roof - which is gone, and it’s been gone for a year and a half,” Fontenot said as he showed a photo of his home.
Though he said FEMA gave him nearly $8000 dollars to repair his home, he said he wouldn’t know where to begin with that amount of money. He said he’s saved the money.
“No one will come out and look at my damage. They going to assess it over the phone,” Fontenton said. “And I tell them everything that was damaged. And they said, ‘Well, that’s not extensive damage.’ I have no roof! What do you call extensive?”
After the May flood, he said an inspector did come to his house but wouldn’t go inside because of COVID protocols.
“But there’s nobody living in the house. It’s an empty house - flooded - everything else,” Fontenot said. “So, what does it matter? You can’t go in? I don’t even live there anymore, I can’t.”
Fontenot said when he recently contacted Restore Louisiana, he was told he doesn’t qualify for the assistance program because FEMA determined he didn’t have major damage.
“My front room ... there’s nothing but sky - nothing but sky up here,” Fontenot said showing a photo from his home.
A FEMA spokesperson said they will give Fontenot’s information to their Individual Assistance Program to see what help can perhaps be provided.
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