NEW ORLEANS -- It's been more than a year since we first reported on a number of homes that collapsed because of work the homeowners say was not done properly by an elevation contractor.
Some of those homeowners are still battling the contractor and are still out of their homes.
Cindy Butler carefully unlocked her Marrero home Tuesday so we could get a glimpse inside. It collapsed more than a year ago after Professional Shoring Elevations tried to raise it.
“It's frustrating. I want to go home so badly,” Butler said.
The only thing different a year later is that more of the floor has fallen out.
“I want to cry every time (I look at it),” Butler said.
After our first series of reports about a year ago, Jefferson Parish made the company’s owner, Ernest Blackwell, come out and install steel beams to try and secure the house. But no one knows if the house is still secure because that's the only work that's been done since.
Butler is now trying to change contractors, and because she got an elevation grant, Jefferson Parish is trying to figure out whether they can get back the $17,000 paid to Blackwell for the work and how much work Professional Shoring actually completed.
A family in Lafourche Parish is facing a similar problem.
“It was our first family home. It was perfect for us. It was nice and snug,” said Kori Defilice
Her family's home also collapsed when Professional Shoring was trying to raise it in 2010.
“Unbelievable. It was just unreal. I remember thinking, I would rather have 3 feet of water in my house every year than deal with, then deal with this,” Defilice said.
They had to demolish it two years ago, but still haven't gotten any money to rebuild. Defilice said they paid Blackwell their Road Home grant money, hazard mitigation grant funds from the state and money from their own pocket.
“If it wasn't broken, it was mildewed. It was just a mess. So, not only did we have to come out of pocket for the demolishing and for the other fees and fines, but we had to start completely over,” she said.
In February 2013, the La. Licensing Board for Contractors revoked company owner Ernest Blackwell's license. They fined him for work done on eight homes and for operating without a license on eight more. Blackwell paid the more than $50,000 fine.
When asked about the Defilice and Butler homes on the phone, Blackwell told us, "There are issues with those homes..." and that he is "…trying to resolve everything."
Both families have sued Blackwell's insurance companies.
After a year of paying a mortgage on the home she can't live in, and rent for place she's in now, Butler said she's frustrated.
“It's gonna be years before I can retire,” she said.
Blackwell said he is planning to appeal the revocation of his contractor's license.