NEW ORLEANS -- Homeowners who have attempted to have their homes elevated with disastrous consequences are wondering what to do now.
The leader of the state's elevation program said there is now a way to help them.
It's a complicated program that still has some wondering if their homes will ever be whole again.
Jacqueline Griffiths-Gills worries about the stability of her Gentilly home every day. She hired Ernest Blackwell and Professional Shoring Elevations to elevate it through the state's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
But after the house was lifted, the cracks started appearing.
“My grand baby can't even come over here anymore because of the hot water heater. It's leaking carbon monoxide and that's a slow killer,” Griffiths-Gills said.
Some of the other problems with the house you can't see quite as easily. The clothes dryer doesn’t vent to the outside. The contractor bricked it up, but didn’t cut a vent for it.
She was awarded a combination grant of $130,000 from Road Home and HMGP funds, and so far, she’s paid Blackwell $90,000. The remainder hasn’t yet been disbursed by the state. Blackwell says she still owes him a final payment for work he now says is complete.
“He never told me he was done with the work, but the problem is, if you don't come for three, four months at a time, what do you say? That's too long,” Griffiths-Gills said.
Blackwell points out that the city of New Orleans issued a certificate of occupancy for Griffiths-Gills’ home, signaling that the house passed inspection. However it also says it is an incomplete elevation.
“If we get a certificate of completion or a certificate of occupancy from whatever municipality the work is done in, that tells us that it passes the code. If there's additional damage, that's a separate issue,” Taffaro said.
The program will now allow homeowners who feel like they're out of money and options to choose a contractor to fix problems caused by the elevation, according to Taffaro.
“The original contractor would be removed from the project. The homeowner would be able to select a qualified contractor and the program works on a new plan with the new contractor to complete the work in a timely manner,” he said.
So far, Taffaro says 2 to 3 percent of the homes in the state's elevation program have had problems and they're planning to spend $7-8 million to straighten it all out.
Griffiths-Gillis said she hopes she's one of the ones who gets some help sooner rather than later.
Individual parishes also have elevation programs and each will have to figure out how to help homeowners who have problems with their elevations.
We asked Jefferson Parish how they plan to deal with theirs, but they said it's in litigation and they can't comment.