MARRERO, La. -- A Marrero woman was working in her backyard Sunday morning when she heard a cracking noise. The floor of her home had collapsed.
The house was in the process of being elevated – a process the homeowners say started back in November.
“The people were not actually inside. There was a dog and two cats that we got out the house,” said Chief Don Robertson of the Marrero Harvey Volunteer Fire Department.
And firefighters say that's a good thing. Just after 11:30 a.m. Sunday, the floor gave way, ripping from the floor boards.
“We believe the structure was unsafe and that's why the floor gave way,” Robertson said.
The homeowner, Cindy Butler, said she contracted with Professional Shoring Elevations back in November to elevate the home using a $100,000 grant that she says she got from Jefferson Parish.
Butler said the contractor dug the trenches underneath the house just after Thanksgiving, but no additional reinforcement of the floating floor was inserted underneath it.
“I would think there has to be some type of support after they dig under the foundation and apparently that didn't happen,” Robertson said. “But that's for someone else to decide.”
Eyewitness News spoke with contractor Ernest Blackwell on the phone. He said they recently decided to elevate the second story because the foundation wasn't stable enough to be raised.
After the homeowner called Blackwell repeatedly asking when additional work would be done, she said, last week he met with her. In recent months cracks had started appearing in the walls.
He told us, "that's normal that you get small cracks like that."
Firefighters say what's not normal is having the floor fall out.
“This process has been going on since Thanksgiving. So now, with the rain and all of that, some of the foundation has washed out and I think that's where we at,” Robertson said.
In the meantime the homeowner has to find a temporary place to live until Professional Shoring Elevations fixes the damage.
The house is so unstable Entergy cut the power, and Jefferson Parish Code Enforcement Director Tiffany Wilken told us they will issue a stop work order allowing no more construction on the home until the contractor gets a professional engineer to certify their plans for how to finish the job.
Both the homeowner and the contractor didn't want to do an interview with us about the situation.
Blackwell is a licensed contractor with the state with a good rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Wilken said they will be notifying the state licensing board about what happened to the home in Marrero.