Editorial/Op

Returning Home, and Soon

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUEb larger    For the future of the Central community, it is absolutely imperative that everything possible is done to allow every citizen of Central to return to their home, and soon.  I’ll get to the most important reason in a moment, but I’ll start with a nod to the harsh realities of economics.
    This flood has upset the balance of our economy.  Our essential services such as the Fire Department, Sheriff’s Office, School System, Library, and our city government are all funded by sales and property taxes.  That support can only continue if people can return to their homes, and soon.  Property values in Central may well depend on slowing down new development to encourage redevelopment of damaged homes.
    While those are important issues, the most important reason to try to return every citizen to their home, and soon… is that these are their homes.
    I believe that up to 40% of Central’s homes did not flood, and I am one of those lucky ones. However I have worked side-by-side for six weeks now with the rest of my family to save and restore their homes. Young newlyweds in their 20s to elderly retirees in their 80s all have one thing in common, they want to go home, and soon.
    The barriers to going home are plentiful.  Hours in line to apply for a permit only to be told no one knows when or if you will get one.  Days waiting for a moisture test.  Weeks waiting for the city to determine whether your home is “substantially damaged”.  More weeks waiting on insurance adjusters or answers from FEMA.
    In the midst of the frustrations and barriers, I have seen the resilient and determined people of Central find so many pathways home.  Travel trailers and motor homes (these are allowed in Central through August, 2017), and even a few FEMA trailers (apply at www.disasterassistance.gov) have many citizens AT home, even though not IN their home.
    Louisiana is providing the Shelter-At-Home Program (apply at www.shelterathome.la.gov), fixing up a few essential rooms to provide a place to live while repairs are done.  Days and weeks before this program, many industrious people in Central had already built their 2×4 kitchen sink stand and nailed up enough sheetrock to go home.
    Still others have simply forged ahead and are quickly completing the repairs to their homes, hoping or trusting that insurance or FEMA… or time… will make them whole in the long run.
    Insured or uninsured, below BFE or not in a flood zone, two inches of water or eight feet, easily repaired or substantially damaged, everyone has the same goal… to go home, and soon.
    Let me repeat myself.  For the future of the Central community, it is absolutely imperative that everything possible is done to allow every citizen of Central to return to their home, and soon. If we as a community return as many to their homes as possible, as soon as possible, Central can come back as strong as ever.  The flood of 2016 can change what we must do, but it can’t change who we are, and that is Good News for a Great City.

 

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