Homeowners still cleaning up months after historic floods

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PINE BLUFF, Ark.-It’s been almost three months since floodwaters took over homes and businesses in the Natural State and many families are still trying to get through the cleanup process.

“Some days you feel just why should I go on and continue to do it and then the next day you feel well it’s well worth it,” Nichols said.
Ron Nichols has lived in the Island Harbor Estates in Pine Bluff for 30 years.

During the flood, he had to use a boat to get around and save things inside his house.

In the last several weeks Nichols and his son have spent countless hours putting in new walls and floors.

Nichols says he received some assistance from FEMA but, it wasn’t enough.

He’s already spent over $5,000 dollars and still has a lot to do before he moves back in.
It’s all hard work for Ron Nichols and his son.

“I don’t know what I would do without him,” Nichols said.

The pair have spent the past few weeks re-building Nichols home in the Island Harbor Estates in Pine Bluff.

“Putting studs in the walls, all new insulation in and Sheetrock it’s taking a long time we did almost a hundred sheets already,” Nichols said.

Back in May Nichols had to stack furniture and appliances to protect it from floodwater.

“44 to 45 inches deep in floodwater and the whole neighborhood was devastated,” Nichols said.

Soon after the flood was over, several groups stepped in and helped out.

“New Church of Life and 8 days of Hope came by and ripped all the flood damage out down to the bare walls,” Nichols said.

But Nichols and several others were still stuck with thousands of dollars in repair damage. Nichols said he didn’t have flood insurance and FEMA gave little assistance.

“They gave us $268 dollars to rebuild the house after it was destroyed. That didn’t go very far. That was really an insult it just hurts your feelings,” Nichols said.

He says for now he’s going to continue to work hard and make his house a home again.

“I come out here before 8 o’clock and I’m here to 4,5,6 o’clock In the afternoon doing what I can. Depending on how my ankle will let me work,” Nichols said.

Nichols says he also tried to apply for a small business loan, but he was denied because he didn’t have flood insurance.

FEMA released a statement,

FEMA is not an Insurance Company and FEMA does not make disaster survivors whole after a disaster. Our job is to provide assistance to homeowners that make their homes safe, secure and functional. This means they have doors and windows that close and lock. They have 1 working bathroom. They have power. They have bedrooms for the people who resided in the residence prior to the disaster.
FEMA sometimes purchases flood insurance for homes that are in a flood zone. It is usually purchased for a 3 year period. When this purchase is made, the house that is insured is required to carry flood insurance thereafter. If the home does not have flood insurance on it after it was purchased by FEMA, the homeowner is not eligible for home repair assistance. They may still be eligible for other assistance such as furniture or automobile repair or replacement if damaged.

Bettina Hutchings
Region 6 IMAT 1
External Affairs Officer

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