Vietnam veteran asks for help to rebuild hurricane-devastated home

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) – There are still many people in the Lake Area who have not recovered from the 2020 hurricanes.

One of them is Reggie Fontenot, who seems to be in first place 18 months later.

Fontenot is beyond frustrated with what he’s been through over the past year and a half.

It’s a familiar story since the storms: those who have too much damage to afford to repair themselves, but supposedly not enough to qualify for help.

Fontenot lives in a room in his 85-year-old mother’s home in Lake Charles.

He cannot understand why he is not getting the help he needs to rebuild his home on Ling Road.

“Here is my kitchen. My front door is here. There’s your side wall, your back wall and the ceiling – the roof – that’s gone, and it’s been gone for a year and a half,” Fontenot said when showing a photo of his house.

Although he said FEMA gave him nearly $8,000 to fix his house, he said he didn’t know where to start with that amount of money. He said he saved the money.

“No one is going to come out and look at my damage. You’ll judge it over the phone,” Fontenton said. “And I tell them everything that has been damaged. And they said, “Well, that’s not much harm.” I have no roof! what do you mean extensive?”

After the floods in May, he said an inspector came to his home but didn’t go inside because of COVID protocols.

“But nobody lives in the house. It’s an empty house – flooded – everything else,” Fontenot said. “So what does it matter? Can’t get in? I don’t even live there anymore, I can’t.”

Fontenot said when he recently contacted Restore Louisiana, he was told he doesn’t qualify for the assistance program because FEMA determined he had no major damage.

“My living room… it’s nothing but heaven up here – nothing but heaven,” Fontenot said, showing a photo of his home.

A FEMA spokesman said they would be passing Fontenot’s information to their individual assistance program to see what help might be provided.

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