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The following letter was sent to a local reporter several times over the past 4-5 months (edited to protect privacy):

Mr. XXXXXXXX,

My husband and I are rebuilding our home in Saucier that was damaged beyond repair during Katrina. Because we were underinsured, we’ve done most of the work ourselves, including the house plans, plumbing, electric, etc. We are both computer teachers so this is not something that we ever did prior to Katrina, but we have saved money and developed a great sense of satisfaction. We have five children, ages 10 to 17, that have also helped a great deal.

Last December, we hired a contractor to construct the decks, roof structure, and sheathing, for payment of $7,500. The contractor, XXXXXX XXXXXX of Slidell, did what he was hired to do but did it so poorly that we could not pass inspection. Code violations include use of interior nails on the deck and modification/cutting of engineered floor trusses that were already installed. Long story short, we had to hire another contractor to deconstruct and rebuild XXXXXX’s work. The total cost of repairs was $27,971.

Another problem is that FEMA told us to find rental housing because of the formaldehyde problems. At the time, we were living in two FEMA campers on our property and couldn’t get a permit for a full size trailer or MEMA cottage because we’re in a flood zone on the upper Biloxi River. FEMA said that up to $28,000 would be provided in rental assistance once our ALE was exhausted. However, after the ALE ran out, FEMA did not pay as promised. Each time we contacted FEMA we were told that we would be reimbursed but this has not been done and now we’re told that the deadline to receive rental assistance has passed. We have borrowed close to $20,000 from our construction funds to pay rent.

I know this is a lot to ask but we really need your help. I watch you on WLOX and admire the way you get things done. Up to this point, we haven’t asked for help from anyone other than FEMA and SBA. Even though we’ve been displaced since Katrina, I felt like any assistance that we received would be taking from other people with needs much greater than ours. But now I really don’t know what we’re going to do…we may be homeless before long because we don’t have enough money to finish our house and we can’t afford to pay both rent and mortgage each month. Especially since our mortgage is now $600 per month more than it used to be because of increased cost of insurance plus $300 per month for repayment of the SBA loan.

Here’s a picture of our house that was taken before Katrina: http://www.flickr.com/photos/5adie/2352990750/in/set-72157604028944106/

This is a picture taken earlier this month: http://www.flickr.com/photos/5adie/3707810854/in/set-72157606786420513/

Please email me or call 228-XXX-XXXX. Thank you for your time…I really appreciate all that you do for our community.

As of yet, I have not received any indication that my letter was received. If anyone knows of another way to deliver this letter, please let me know.

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