Hurricane Katrina Victims Still Submerged In Debt And Seeking Financial Assistance
by Denise B. Spencer
(Meraux, LA, USA)
We are Hurricane Katrina victims. In a no-flood zone we lost all we owned -- literally everything -- including our jobs. The true ground zero of Hurricane Katrina was indeed St. Bernard Parish.
Displaced as we were by the storm, no one would hire my husband with him being totally deaf. And the storm literally took away my ability to continue to practice my own profession.
On top of that, even though we had excellent credit and I emptied my retirement fund completely, I had to fight tooth and nail for every cent we got from The Road Home.
The structure part was returned at the closing. I left for evacuation with about $18,000 in our savings and had an additional $16,000 in my retirement account. We could no longer pay for our life insurance and so Amerus Life paid us back around $700 out of $5,000.
We moved a total of five times post-Katrina, including three times in MS and once to TN in the hopes that the boat company would hire my husband since he is top rigger at Tim's Marine. It would have been about a 30-mile trip to Triton Boats; however, they overlooked him there as well.
The SBA would not give us the amount of funds we needed to redo our home. They even put a lien on the lots we own in Oak Harbor, Pearlington, MS. Regions Mortgage knew we were in dire straits, yet as soon as we started to repair our home they attempted to foreclose and made us catch up notes at the rate of $1626 per month plus we had to pay our SBA.
For the record we had just remodeled our home pre-Katrina and paid for all of those items on our Home Depot Bill, all of these things were discarded and thrown away.
The vet in TN killed our champion Bloodline German Shepherd female while spaying her. She bled out. Necropsy proved it. We could write a book!
We decided to come home shortly after the severe tornados in and near Hendersonville, TN. We ordered our FEMA trailer and did so at least 60 days ahead of time. Sure the flags were here; however, we had to live in our rat-infested garage, as it had not been delivered. It came 10 days after we got home and the electricity 11 days.
We literally had to bath in our gutted bathtub in our rear yard. Because of my inability to practice nursing and other issues, I filed for my disability. I went to court and was denied. I then had to file again. In July 2008, after changing attorneys, I finally got it.
There's been no back pay, no work since August 26, 2005. My back was already in bad shape, due to being rear-ended several times. The storm made it worse, because we became poor overnight. Without the SBA giving us the proper loan, we still have Am-South the company from below us.
Why? Because they set up payments in 2006 and we met the payments. Then they sent a new book, and still in shock over the storm and all we went through, I just forgot I signed a paper for payments till the following July.
They actually had people coming here, as this is a high demand neighborhood. Still without Road Home Funds, I had to call my father-in-law Clifford Spencer and borrow $4300 to pay it off, as they were threatening foreclosure.
The irony of the entire situation was that I paid them March 2007 the reduced payment per their payment book; however, they sent the April payment to us with the forbearance notice.
We cannot afford to live here any longer; therefore we signed a promissory note for $35,000 to my aunt and uncle, both of whom have served their country. As soon as the home where we live is sold, we will leave to redo a termite-infested home in MS.
The thing is that we are living on our Discover Card now. We have excellent credit, how I do not know. I recently wrote to Regions, which is actually Am-South and requested them to change the due date on our Mortgage; it was late this month.
I explained to them that I do not get my disability check until the third Wednesday of each month. Today they declined. The Regions Bank was great, but no longer with the merge do they care about their clients.
We respectfully request help and assistance to maintain our good credit history and to help us with the assistance to redo our older home in MS. We are literally drowning in debt. Bankruptcy is not now or ever will be an option for us. We just do not operate like that.
Please assist us and help my deaf husband with some funds to redo the home we want to move to for many reasons. There's no pumping station or Walmart here. It is a nightmare.
On top of all of that each year, I must fight for insurance rates to keep our house note down. They went up American National from $1060 pre Katrina to $3163 then to $4020 now then attempted to go to $4300. Thank God other insurance companies were writing.
People in St. Bernard Parish are suffering and in dire straits here. I switched to GeoVera, last year, then they attempted to go up from $2500 to $2816, no claims made. I had to change again this summer.
Please help us! We have been through nothing but problems since the storm. Sincerely, Respectfully submitted, Denise B. Spencer