“It’s devastating,” Lake Charles, Louisiana homeowner Howard Duhon said. “I pass on 210 and look South, all the trees are gone. There is no more green. Then you see the damage, things that were here for forever; they survived other storms and didn’t survive this one.”
Just a week ago, things looked a lot different here in Lake Charles before Hurricane Laura came through and forced people to flee their homes. The damage sustained was more than many were expecting.
“There’s not even any debris; it’s gone,” Duhon said.
The Duhon family’s roof was severely damaged but they still consider themselves lucky. Duhon has lived in Lake Charles for 60 years and says Hurricane Laura was the worst he’s ever seen. Times like these can be overwhelming and many oftentimes don’t know where to start -- Duhon included.
“There's so much of it going on; who do you call?" Duhon recalled thinking. "They're (We’re) so busy; so, this worked out great."
Duhon is talking about a free assistance program called Operation Blue Roof, which is a priority mission managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The purpose of the program is to provide homeowners in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover damaged roofs until permanent repairs can be made. The deadline to sign up for this free assistance is Sept. 21, 2020.
“The governor happened to have a news conference and my wife said, well what about the blue roofs?” Duhon said. “She gave me the information and I got online and registered and here we are today.”
Duhon is the first person to receive one of what will soon be thousands of blue roofs to be installed in Southwestern Louisiana. This will be his second time using this program.
If interested, homeowners must first sign the Right of Entry (ROE), which is a legal document that allows Corps workers to access homeowners' property and assess damage to your roof. The ROE also allows contractors to work on the roof.
Some requirements for getting a blue roof include the roof having standard asphalt shingles, metal sheets, or similar material lending itself toward temporary repair, the home being the homeowner’s primary residence, and roof damage being less than 50 percent in structural damage.
"Most of these homes survived the initial storm, but if water damage were to occur in the coming months, they would be uninhabitable, so getting these roofs on are essential to keeping the homes safe and inhabitable," Memphis District Commander Col. Zachary Miller said.
The following Louisiana Parishes are eligible. This list may be subject to change: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vernon.
Those interested in applying can visit www.usace.army.mil/BlueRoof or call 1-888-766-3528 for more information. Again, the deadline to sign up is Sept. 21, 2020.