Over 2,000 victims of 2016 flood still recovering as holidays approach

The lag in progress for many, victims say, is due to conflicting information from insurance companies and recovery agencies, as well as a lack of money to follow through with any direction they do get. People say they feel like they're being punished for

PONCHATOULA -- Joe San Marco stretched onto his tippy toes to reach the seven-foot-tall water mark left on his shed during the August 2016 flood.

The shed is the only original building left on his Ponchatoula-area property.  What has emerged is a new, raised and reinforced home that's partially finished and partially furnished.

"It's unbelievable," he said looking around the extra large master bathroom. "Sometimes I get lost in the house."

That's because the RV in the drive way has been home, and still technically is, heading into another holiday season.

"Your morale is kind of down a little," he said. "But you can't do anything about it. Just have to do what you can."

San Marco says there are similar stories with his neighbors, while Tangipahoa Parish's list of still-permitted FEMA mobile housing units shows the experience is wide-spread.  

The lag in progress for many, victims say, is due to conflicting information from insurance companies and recovery agencies, as well as a lack of money to follow through with any direction they do get. People say they feel like they're being punished for just trying to be proactive.

"We were going. We were gung-ho working and then they said stop working," said Bunny Lee Miranda.

The back-and-forth over what can and can't be done has left Miranda and her husband with an exposed skeleton of a home that they may be forced to return to in less than three months.

"We're very depressed. We don't know what to do," she said. "We're praying is what we're doing and believing that the Lord is going to have some way out of this."

As another Thanksgiving approaches with so far left to go, many say they're still thankful for how far they've come.

FEMA is ending its mobile housing unit program in February. To date, more than 2,000 families in 16 parishes have moved back into their homes, while more than 2,400 remain in the units.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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