Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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Government shutdown leads to further flood aid delays

If you are a Louisiana resident who is still seeking financial relief from the damage wrought by the 2016 flood disaster, the recent government shutdown may have moved the goalposts even further for you, according to the state's flood recovery effort leader.

Grants for aid to homeowners grappling with the red-tape of disaster relief will likely be delayed even further. This includes the nearly 6,000 residents with loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). These residents who took out the loans are still awaiting a determination whether they are eligible for additional disaster recovery funding through Restore Louisiana grants.

Laws changed last year

Back in October, Congress made changes to the law regarding allowing recipients of SBA loans to be permitted to apply for additional federally financed disaster relief grants. However, Louisiana officials are still awaiting legal guidance from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Originally expected to be forthcoming in March, it's now likely that one of the consequences of the government being shut down will be further delays. The director for the Louisiana Office of Community Development advised the Restore Louisiana Task Force that "[t]he 35 days of shutdown probably adds at least 35 days to that timeline because those were days people were going to be writing this guidance."

Lives left in limbo

Long after the floodwaters crested and receded, some Louisiana residents are still not back in their homes. Without additional funding and the appropriate federal guidelines regarding their eligibility, many of these residents lack the resources to rebuild.

In some cases, this can lead to frustrated residents attempting to repair their flood-damaged properties themselves or hiring questionable contractors who offer to do the work at suspiciously low prices but then abscond with the money they were paid without doing the contracted work.

Life is frustrating in a FEMA trailer

Waiting on federal assistance that may or may not be forthcoming while living in a cramped and crowded FEMA trailer is nobody's idea of a good time. But, before you throw good money after bad and hire a disreputable contractor to repair or rebuild your home or business, do your due diligence on the business owner and entity to make sure that you don't get ripped off.

Too late for that? If you already are feeling the burn from a breach of contract with a dishonest contractor, regardless of the potential additional funding sources that may be made available, you need to take immediate legal action against the shady contractor.

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Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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