DENHAM SPRINGS – Attorney Michael Moore had two observations for the people who attended the public meeting on flood insurance on Thursday, Aug. 17, at Big Mike’s.
The Sept. 1 deadline to file a claim to get more money from an insurance company is closing in and “You shouldn’t be in a FEMA trailer a year later,” Moore said.
“The biggest problem with FEMA,” he said, “is FEMA to talking at ya, the federal government is talking at ya, and not listening.”
Moore’s law firm, Weisbrod Matteis & Copley, of Washington, D.C., with the Denham Springs law firm of Boyer, Hebert, Abels, Angelle, has been holding a series of public meetings for people having trouble with their insurers or the federal government,
The attorney offered three pieces of advice: get legal representation, never give up and, “If you have flood insurance, you have until Sept. 1 to file a proof of loss claim with your insurance company.”
A proof of loss claim seeks a larger settlement from an insurance company than it might have paid a person for flood damage or repairs. Documentation, such as bills or repair estimates, must be included.
His firm is currently handling eight to 10 hearings a day with FEMA over Superstorm Sandy claims, Moore said.
Insurance companies earned a profit of $400 million from FEMA in Sandy claims, he said.
“We understand the way they play,” Moore said,
Moore also lamented flood victims being isolated but still expected to use modern technology.
Restore Louisiana is distributing federal funding, Moore said, but, “It drives me crazy that people are in a FEMA trailer without WiFi, without cable or a computer.”
People living in FEMA trailers may not know about Restore Louisiana, he said, and without a computer or Internet access, they can’t register with Restore Louisiana.
“I’m not anti-FEMA. I’m not anti-Restore Louisiana,” Moore said, but he urged people at the meeting to make their needs known to state officials.
“Keep calling them. If there is a town hall, show up. Show up at every Restore Louisiana town hall,” he said.
“There’s $1.3 billion for homeowners from HUD,” Moore said, and according to the attorney, 112,000 people in Louisiana were flooded in August 2016 and 36,000 have applied through Restore Louisiana.
A total of 21,000 have been found eligible, he said, asking if anyone knew how many have actually received funding.
He got an answer from the audience – “553.”
“You’re paying taxes. You’ve paid insurance (premiums). You want to be back in your home and make whole” Moore said. “I’m not anti-government. I was a government lawyer once.”
One of his paralegals downloaded six pages of resources for flood victims, which Moore offered to his audience.
“I’m anti-SBA loan,” Moore said about the federal Small Business Association after hearing one person recount taking out a loan to finish repairs. “Why ask for a loan when there is free money out there?”
Kevin Fambrough is a reporter at the Livingston Parish News. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @fambroughkevin.