Action Report: Oil Spill Claimant Worries As She Waits


by Bill Capo / Action Reporter

Posted on September 16, 2010 at 6:34 PM

PORT SULPHUR, La. -- Nichole Benoit works long days at a Port Sulphur fuel dock with 12 hour shifts, but is grateful to have the job as she worries about how much the BP oil spill will wreck her life.

"Good thing I have this job. If I didn't have this job, we would have lost the home, we would have lost the vehicles."

We first met Nichole after Katrina destroyed her restaurant and her husband's shrimp boat, leaving her family to start over in a tiny fema trailer.

"There's five of us. You turn around amd you bump into somebody," she said as she stood in the cramped tailer in January 2006.


They spent years fighting Road Home and their insurance company, but this January they opened a seafood business for Nichole, and the fishing looked good for her husband.

"This year looked like it was going to be our year. "

But after the oil spill, her business closed, and this job is the only family income. With unpaid bills stacking up, they turned to oil spill claims admininstrator Ken Feinberg, but their application has been under review for three weeks.

"It is just frustrating, because you don't know what is going to go on. I don't know if I'm going to have the money to pay my house note, if I'm going to have the money to pay my kids' tuition, groceries is another thing."

When Nichole asked me for help, I immediately sent her inforamtion to Ken Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility. That was two weeks ago, but when I called to find out where her claim stood, how quickly would it be resolved, they told me they wouldn't tell me anything, citing privacy reasons, even though they knew I had sent them her information. Well, if it doesn't make any sense to you, it certainly doesn't to Nichole, because she needs the answers desperately.

"How much longer is it going to be in review? I mean, how long does it take to review?" she said.

Her husband was told Thursday more paperwork is needed, but he must wait for a letter to arrive with details, which she said is another delay for a family barely hanging on.

"I don't want to lose everything I've worked twice for. After Katrina we had to build it back up again. I don't know if I can do it a third time."