Hurricane Laura: Many Commercial Buildings Being Condemned

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — A Louisiana mayor says 300 to 400 commercial buildings damaged last year by Hurricane Laura are being condemned or marked for demolition.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter told the City Council on Wednesday that he realizes business owners have needed time to work with insurance companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, The American Press reported.

“Property owners have been through a lot,” he said. “We also hear cries from the neighbors — people who are living or working across the street or next door to some of these properties. We can’t allow these things to exist forever in the city.”

The council doubled the daily fine for unsecured commercial properties to $1,000 in certain instances. It also cut in half the 24 months previously allowed for commercial buildings to be boarded up.

Demolishing every commercial and residential building condemned because of the storm could cost more than $15 million, Hunter said.

FEMA has approved reimbursement for demolishing some homes damaged by Laura.

Disaster block grants approved by Congress can help homeowners, he said. He said the city is confident the state will launch a housing effort similar to the Road Home program after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.