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WSAZ Investigates | RISE house still needs repairs months later

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 7:15 PM EST
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - After months of dealing with different agencies about problems with her house that was rebuilt as part of the RISE flood recovery program, Ladema Shafer doesn’t know what else can be done to fix things.

“I can’t sleep,” Shafer said. “I try to go to sleep and I think of all the things that need to be done.”

We first investigated problems with Shafer’s house and the RISE warranty process in September. Since then, contractors have worked to repair the siding and a few other issues with Shafer’s Kanawha County home. However, the main problem, a leaking and loose roof, still hasn’t been fixed.

“I am grateful for what they did do,” Shafer said. “I am grateful for HUD and the federal government that paid for this trailer, but they got to keep their word, is really what I am saying. If they say they are going to be here, be here. If you can’t fix it, tell me. They’ve got to do something.”

Shafer referenced contractors not showing up due to WSAZ cameras being at her house to capture repair work, and said she hadn’t been able to get in contact with her contractor for more than a month, so WSAZ reached out to the West Virginia National Guard, which oversees the RISE program.

The National Guard said Shafer’s house is between stages of the repair process. Certain work has been completed by the contractor, while other work, including the roof, falls under the mobile home’s manufacturer warranty.

“At the end of the day, it is honestly on the contractor and their availability with their workforce,” Maj. Holli Nelson said. “Right now, times are difficult because we are working into what is becoming winter outside, so that makes it more difficult to get things done, and also we are in the middle of a pandemic, so the workforce might be a little bit less available because of extenuating circumstances.”

Nelson said the National Guard steps in to mediate any disputes between the homeowner and the contractors. It also inspects problems and repairs to ensure everything is fixed properly under the warranty process. The Guard tries to get homes repaired as quickly as possible, but has a limited team that is working as hard as it can.

“When we hand over the keys to somebody, we go over the process with them of what to do if they have a warranty issue or an issue in general with their home,” Nelson said. “Even at the end of the (warranty) process, if they are having an issue, the Guard is here. That was the Governor’s directive from the get go to General Hoyer is, that we will do everything we need to do to take care of these people and get everything recovered through the housing program. So we are there for them.”

Even if the repair process takes longer than a homeowner wants, Nelson said any warranty claims that are made within the one-year warranty period will be fully repaired. Anyone with problems is asked to contact the National Guard so they can get the proper agency working to fix the problem.

Since the 2016 flood, the RISE program has completed 243 homes, Nelson said. More than 160 other houses are currently being rebuilt. The roof on Shafer’s house is set to be repaired later this month.

Shafer said she’s just waiting for the construction workers to return to finish their job, and regrets joining the program every day as it’s been a very long road since her house was destroyed.

“I wish they left me alone, I really do,” Shafer said. “I am just tired of the aggravation and no response to anything.”

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