LAFAYETTE — My Hurricane Laura restoration effort hit rock bottom last week, but the situation looked much brighter by week’s end. Waiting for an insurance company estimate of damages on my home and hoping to hear from some contractors I had called proved fruitless by Thursday.
“I’m packing my bags and going home,” I told Dr. Joe Fierro, my son-in-law, and Jamie, my daughter, who are staying in the same Lafayette hotel. “I don’t care if there is any electricity there. I’m just going to go home, go to bed and forget this entire mess.”
Both of them probably thought I had lost it, and maybe I had. However, this rigmarole, which one definition says is “the process of putting someone through a bunch of BS to get from point A to point B,” had taken a heavy toll on my good senses.
Why should I, a newspaperman who doesn’t know the first thing about contracting, have to deal with such complex issues? Don’t we buy insurance so experienced people can help us do these things?
Dr. Joe, who retired as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, has been around the world and has obviously been through this restoration stuff before. Both he and Jamie brought me back to my senses when Joe said he would take over the job.
Their home has more damage than mine, but it was soon obvious to me that Joe was farther along in getting things done. He had already located a contractor to do his repairs, and said he would talk to Carlos Solis with Striker Roofing and Construction about doing mine as well.
What a relief that was. But there was more good news.
Randy Roach, our former Lake Charles mayor, and a good friend, had contacted me earlier about someone who cleaned debris from yards. Justin Williams is his name, and he owns JK’s Striping and Lawn Care.
I contacted Williams and he came up with a bid to remove all of that horrible looking debris in my yard that has been bugging me for days. However, I thought I had to contact my insurance company to get its OK before the work could be done.
“You have a $9,855 deductible on your home insurance policy,” Joe said, “so just call Williams and find out when he can do the job.”
I did, and I got a call Friday from Williams, along with photographs of my now-clean lawn. The job is done, and all I had to do was make a short telephone call.
Joe then asked me if I wanted him to contact Carlos about checking the tarpaulin covering my roof to be sure it would protect my home from heavy rains that might be possible this week.
Carlos gave us a bid and after I said OK, he called Joe Friday evening and said he would have a crew out there Saturday to get the job done.
If I ever get that insurance estimate of damages, Carlos says he is prepared to work on Joe and Jamie’s home and mine as well.
Joe and Jamie also got the hotel room I am in. As you would expect, the hotels in Lafayette and everywhere else from Baton Rouge to Jennings are crammed with Lake Charles area residents.
My room was only good through today, and I was preparing to move back into a Lafayette apartment with Edith, my daughter-in-law, and Andrew, my grandson.
While waiting for Sunday to arrive and not happy about the prospect of having to move again, Joe checked with the desk every day to see if my stay could be extended. More good news came Friday. My stay had been extended and the insurance company had already paid the bill up to a point.
What a relief that was, but there’s more.
State Sen. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles, called Friday after reading about my living quarters plight in Thursday’s American Press. He said Baton Rouge makes for a longer trip, but he could get me a room there if I needed it.
Others also emailed me after reading that column, and I had another offer for lodging. What a blessing it is to have so many people come to your rescue.
I would also like to note that our hosts in Lafayette have been extremely kind and helpful. And if anyone ever wants to stay in a city where there are more good places to eat than you can count, Lafayette is your best bet.
All of us are anxiously awaiting news that electric power has been restored to our homes, and many have already received the good news. Here’s hoping the rest of us hear something soon. Bless Entergy and the thousands of electrical workers from around the country who are giving us unparalleled service.
Anyone wanting to keep up with the pace of power restoration need only go online to etrviewoutage.com (the Entergy website). Click on the Louisiana button, type in a home address and viewers can seen green lines where power has been restored and red lines where it hasn’t been.
How the rest of my story ends is anyone’s guess, but in just a couple of days I went from getting ready to throw in the towel to begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
I am sure Dr. Joe realizes he’s my contractor now. It will be up to me and my insurance company to come up with the money he needs to get the job done.
I am sure the headaches aren’t over. We now have some serious storms on the horizon. However, I’m definitely breathing much easier than I was just a few days ago.
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