NEW ORLEANS – A family of commercial fishermen in St. Bernard Parish is frustrated by gridlock and delay. They want to know why it’s taking so long to be compensated for their losses tied to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
It’s been 2 1/2 months since they’ve received a check.
“I’ve got rent. My bills don’t stop. What am I supposed to do?” said Korey Jackson, a fourth generation fisherman.
That’s just part of the helplessness and frustration Jackson said he has been dealing with, since Gulf Coast Claims took over from BP back in August.
“When Ken Feinberg took over, that’s when everything went downhill,” said Jackson.
Ken Feinberg, the independent claims administrator, promised more money, more quickly for individuals and businesses filing claims. He initially promised a 48-hour turnaround, but has since said that he didn’t realize the process would be so complex. Jackson said he has provided all the documents needed and hasn’t heard a thing. He said he hasn’t received any letters or phone calls relating to his claim. He is not alone.
“We keep trying and trying. They keep telling us to be patient. You only got so much patience in you,” said Glenn Cascio Jr., Jackson’s brother-in-law.
The whole family of commercial fishermen faces the same frustration. For each of them, the financial hole keeps getting deeper.
“We go to bed at night, thinking, ‘How am I going to put food on the table? Clothes for kids?'” said Cascio.
“We stayed with my brother last week. Our lights were turned off,” added Miranda Jackson, Korey Jackson’s wife.
The Jacksons have three kids, one with severe bronchitis and asthma. They use a breathing machine to treat their 5-year-old every night. They fear the worst if their claim money doesn’t come in.
“Every winter, the bronchitis acts up. If I’m stuck without lights and my son has an asthma attack, we live 30 minutes from the hospital. There is no hospital in St. Bernard Parish. My son might die on the way to the hospital because my son can’t get breathing treatments,” Jackson said.
Amy Weiss, Ken Feinberg’s spokeswoman, said she can’t comment on specific claims because of confidentiality rules. She urged everyone filing a claim to call or log onto their website to check on the status of their claims.
As of Thursday, Gulf Coast Claims has paid out $1.7 billion to 96,000 claimants since taking over in August. You have until Nov. 23 to file for emergency payments for up to six months of losses.