NEW ORLEANS – It was standing room only in Lafitte, with some wearing orange arm bands. But everyone was spellbound when Empire shrimper Elmer Rogers begged Ken Feinberg for help, falling to his knees.
“I’m not asking for the world, I’m just asking for something to live on man. That’s all I’m asking for. What you want me to do, get on my knees and beg for it? Look, I’m here, I’m on my knees for it. I need my money sir, to live.”
Feinberg responded to his cry.
“Thanksgiving, I was under review,” said Rogers. “My kids barely ate. I barely ate. Christmas came. Christmas came. My child is 13 years old. She got nothing. You know what she woke up to? No water in the house, and no power.”
“You’ll hear from me personally within the next day. Personally, you’ll hear from me,” Feinberg promised.
The crowd started out polite, but their frustrations and anger grew.
“This is my documentation, every ‘I’ and ‘T’ was dotted,” said Diane Poche. “I even put a letter from my Mayor Timmy Kerner in it, but I’m going to tell you something. They said I was denied because I didn’t have enough paperwork right here.”
“$5000, do not insult me,” exclaimed another woman.
But Feinberg bristled when asked what he learned from these meetings that he can use to improve the claims process.
“With all due respect, I’ve paid 170,000 people $3 billion dollars. I’m hearing from a few hundred people who remain frustrated. If even one person is frustrated, I want to try and deal with it.”
After he listened to Feinberg’s presentation, Lafitte’s mayor said he is hoping a special liaison will be appointed, someone who understands the needs and issues faced by those who live and work in this area.
“I’m a little disgusted because Mr. Feinberg, I think he’s a good man, and he’s trying to do a good job, but I don’t think he gets it,” said Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner.
“If that person is eligible to get a check, I’ll send that check,” said Feinberg. “If that person is ineligible, they ought to know they’re ineligible, and move on as best they can.”
Feinberg has promised to return.