NEW ORLEANS — We've been telling you about grants to help raise your home since Hurricane Katrina.
It's part of a large effort to help people, not only stay in their homes but also prevent flooding.
One local family is doing just that, but they've run into a few problems. From here the story takes some twists and turns.
After Hurricane Katrina, a local firefighter says he lost $25,000 when a contractor from up north left without finishing the job. So, now he called us when he got concerned about new work on his home, but this time, there is a completely different ending.
“And I made my first two alarm with my brother, and it was like I'm hooked. You really do get to help people at their worst,” said Richard Veazey about his career as a New Orleans Firefighter.
After 30 years of saving lives and property in New Orleans, Richard Veazey finally earned his dream. He’s stationed at the Venetian Isles firehouse and living right down the street on the waterfront.
There is no levee where he lives, but he gets to wake up to a beautiful view every morning.
“I've always wanted to live on the water,” he said.
No levee means flooding. So, after two and a half years he was finally approved for a FEMA elevation grant. The contract was signed in May 2021 and Roubion Shoring began dismantling brick and re-siding last October. Then in the beginning of September, last month, his family moved to a relative's as the raising began.
“I can crawl straight into my house. There's nothing there, just paper,” he pointed out near the fireplace chimney.
But as time ticked away with no visual progress, signs of problems as the house sat, unreturned calls, and his belongings, and clothes out of reach, Richard became frustrated.
“It took me many years to be able to buy out here, and live out here, raise my family out here. I just want to be home. It's stressful. It's hard on your family,” he said.
So, Richard came to WWL-TV News for help. We called Roubion shoring for answers.
Company owner Dennis Roubion got right back to us. Then he, and a manager came out on site, on short notice to meet the homeowner.
“There was a lot of, ‘We'll be out Monday.’ One Monday goes by. Two Mondays go by. Three Mondays go by,” Veazey told Roubion.
“Our loss of time between the time lifting, and where we are today, I take full responsibility for, because I had one of my guys who said, ‘Look, I'm really not comfortable,’ which I appreciate,” Roubion explained.
The men poured over designs. One delay was finding someone experienced in raising a house the extra height. The company explained constraints everyone is facing, from workers walking away to fix roofs after Hurricanes Ida, and even Ian in Florida, supply chain problems, getting materials, and rising costs.
“We used to turnover a project in 45 days without a problem, but now that same 45-day project, is probably going to take three months, sometimes even four,” explained Roubion.
By Thursday afternoon there was a plan. Then on Friday morning, there was progress. A full crew was busy at the Venetian Isles home as Roubion promised.
“I don't want, not supposed to be a contentious thing, and I want to, I wanted you to understand it's moving,” Roubion explained to Veazey. “I had to have the right block guy. I'm not going to put a product out there that I'm not going to stand behind.”
Roubion expects to have the Veazey family back in their home in up to six weeks, maybe before.
Then they can live there while all the outside decking and special landscaping is done to prevent erosion.