Mother of three gets blue roof after Hurricane Ida; ‘Blessed to be first on the list’ | News

Ten days after Hurricane Ida tore her roof, Candace Pepp was the first of 70,000 Louisiana households to receive temporary roofs on Wednesday courtesy of the federal government.

The program, called Operation Blue Roof, is rolling out industrial-strength plastic sheets designed to protect homes until permanent repairs are made.

Pepp, a mother of three who lives in New Orleans East, said the blue roof, like the one that lay in the landscape after Hurricane Katrina, will allow her to finally relax in her own home.

“I actually have to stay inside to make sure there’s no more leaks, the ceiling won’t fall in,” Pepp said shortly before the workers arrived. “It’s a little scary. We drizzled last night. I was up all night to make sure nothing collapsed.”

Things changed in a few hours Wednesday.

“It’s good to be back home and blessed to be first on the list,” she said.

More than 40,000 households have applied for the roofs, and the work is being managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

“This is literally the first of what will probably be at least 44,000 and probably many more,” said Colonel Zachary Miller, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers Hurricane Ida recovery efforts.

“The models tell us that probably 80,000 private homes will need this,” Miller said, adding that some of the repairs will be handled by private insurance companies or individuals.

Officials aim to put up about 800 blue roofs per day once the program is running at full throttle.

“The people we contract directly with will have dozens and dozens of subcontractors and there will be literally hundreds of crews by the time we are fully mobilized all over the state, not just Orleans,” said Miller, who is based in Memphis but was born and raised in Baton Rouge.

The house clearly took a beating when Ida’s winds swept through the New Orleans area on August 29.

Temporary blue and gray tarps installed by a friend when Pepp and her family moved to Foley, Ala. fled, hiding expanses of missing shingles, leaving only bare plywood to protect the house from the elements.

Expert says that while families do what they can until help arrives, self-spun tarpaulins are rarely able to withstand strong winds and rain after a hurricane.

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A total of 15 parishes are authorized for the roofs, including Orleans.

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Louisiana Congress leaders on Monday asked federal officials to review the criteria for which parishes will be given temporary roofs after East B…

Applicants may submit requests to: blueroof.us or by calling 1-888-766-3258.

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The work is for main residences or permanently occupied rental properties with less than 50% damage to the roof structure.

Usually, teams of 4-8 workers do the job.

There are no costs associated with temporary cover.

The waterproof material should protect homes for at least 30 days, and usually much longer.

Two years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, blue roofs still provided protection.

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Lake Charles residents who had the roofs installed after Hurricane Laura hit last year found that they kept their damaged homes dry a few weeks later when Hurricane Delta hit.

Pepp, 38, is the mother of three children aged 14, 3 and 2 months. She was born and raised in New Orleans and is a stay at home mom.

Pepp has applied for a blue roof online.

Her aunt, Mercedes Pepp, said the family was stunned to learn quickly that a roof was on the way.

“When she told me it was like, ‘I can’t believe it,'” said Mercedes Pepp on Wednesday.

Miller said where the work started was part of a high-tech process.

“Along the shore of the lake, we had instant aerial photos,” he said. “That’s how we narrowed it down to this area.”

Candace Pepp has another explanation for why she was first in line.

Her mother died of COVID-19 last year and her birthday is Friday.

“This is my mom’s birthday present to us,” Pepp said. “I said, ‘Oh mama, thank you.'”

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