GRAND ISLE, La. – Hundreds of frustrated residents from Louisiana’s Gulf Coast packed the Grand Isle Community Center to give claims czar Ken Feinberg a piece of their mind Monday.
“I keep getting the same old song and dance,” said one resident at the meeting. “Just like you’re saying now. You sound like a broken record: ‘I’ll check into it.’”
“I made a claim and they sent it to Florida over there. They sent the check to Florida,” said another resident.
“What you got your family for Christmas? You know what I made, you know what I had to do? Make some brownies and some fudge,” said another resident.
Among the most common concerns were claims that were denied.
“I don’t understand why the construction or painters or anything else got denied.”
Feinberg said his office has been hit with claims from across the country.
“We get claims from companies in Oklahoma, in Nebraska, in Illinois, saying because people can’t shrimp or people can’t fish we are losing business for our company – we make umbrellas, we make boat runners,” Feinberg said.
Another sticking point were the claims lost in the bureaucracy of the process.
“I have 329 pages of documentation for all of my businesses and I as explained into you they went into forensic auditing with BP and got lost there. They get lost this time and are in Garden City Ohio,” said another resident.
Many of those at Monday night’s meeting seemed unclear about the process. The emergency claims are over, and Feinberg now says people have three options: people can file an interim claim and wait to negotiate a final settlement, they can take a flat, quick cash settlement, or they can sue BP.
“I’ve been compensated for 2010. But where am I going in the future?” said another resident.
“Don’t settle. You heard the man say that,” said Grand Isle Mayor David Carmadelle. “Because we don’t know what’s out there in the Gulf.”
In the meantime emotions are running high, with many concerned they won’t make it through the process.
“Y’all don’t know squat about over here,” said another resident.
Feinberg said he’s already doled out more than $1 billion in Louisiana alone.
“I’m on their side,” Feinberg said. “Some of them may not think so.”