Proposed timeline for reimbursement during situations on a salt dome

Proposed timeline for reimbursement during situations on a salt dome
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POSTED: Sunday, March 9, 2014 - 10:00pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 9, 2014 - 10:04pm

One state lawmaker wants to change the law to help people affected by future disasters like what happened in Bayou Corne. The proposed law would set a timeline for reimbursing residents in the mandatory or forced evacuation area. The bill was prefiled by State Senator Rick Ward, (D) District 17. He explained after seeing what happened with the people living in Bayou Corne, he wanted to make sure in the event future disasters Louisiana residents have an option to get out of their homes if they want too.

“[Currently] there is nothing directing any company that creates a problem like this to do anything about it in terms of the residents that live within the general area,” Ward said. “... [If passed] they'll [permitted companies] have 180 days to buy out residents within a certain radius of the situation for fair market value. “

Senate Bill 209 “Provides for permitting requirements of solution mining injection wells and solution mined caverns.”

It states: “Reimbursement to any person who owns immovable property located within an area under a mandatory or forced evacuation due to a violation of this Subsection, or any rule, regulation, or order promulgated or issued pursuant to this Subsection. Such reimbursement shall be for the fairmarket value of the property and shall be made to the property owner within one hundred eighty days of the declaration of the mandatory or forced evacuation.”

People living in Bayou Corne know first hand how difficult life can be after a disaster on a salt dome. Some residents like Carl Dugas said the proposed law would be helpful should any community have to face what they’re currently going through.

"I wouldn't want anybody to go through what we had to go through,” He said, “[What we] are still going through, and I think it would be a great thing."

He supports the timeline for reimbursement.

“I think 180 days would be great,” He said. “By that time, if you haven't gotten it fixed by then, or you haven't fixed it by then chances are you won't be able to fix it.”

"Six months that's a lot better than a year and a half right now,” Nick Romero, Bayou Corne resident, said. “You know it's a lot better. "

Romero said he likes the proposed law but he said there are some vague areas and things with it he’d like to see changed including the switch from “fairmarket value” to “replacement value” when it comes to compensation.

"Nobody is wanting to make a huge amount of money off of this thing,” he said. “All they want is put me back in the same or as close to the same situation as what I have now."

Dugas agrees: "This wasn't caused by our fault we were just living here. People need to understand that when something like that happens to you; you don't want appraisal value you want replacement value."

"The replacement value can be a very difficult number to come too...,” Ward said. “So, what I wanted to do was put something in place to get the ball moving.”

If passed the proposed law would only affect Louisiana residents in the event of future disasters.

Currently, many property owners in Bayou Corne are stuck in limbo, Property owners say their fight to move on is far from over.

"We hope we'll get some resolution down the road, but there is no guarantee of when or if that will ever happen," Dugas said.

"We continually ask the question how long can you be in a mandatory evacuation. This is unheard of. You don't do this to people," Romero said.

For more on the proposed law click here.

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