This story is part of a series Herald Guide writers will feature focused on the lives of people in St. Charles Parish still recovering from Hurricane Ida.
Like so many others, the Kitchen family of Luling are still reeling in heartache and sorting out the devastating hand that they were delivered by Hurricane Ida.
“I have lost 60 pounds from all the stress,” Daniele Kitchen said. “I don’t sleep and my poor kids who lost all their stuff ask all the time when we will ever get our house back. They want their rooms back … some normalcy. It’s been almost a year and we are in hurricane season again. How can insurance do this?”
Daniele is currently living in a camper with her husband and two sons, who are 9 and 14.
“My house is mostly gutted – with non-functioning bathrooms, no ceilings and we lost almost all our furniture and belongings,” she said. “The ceilings collapsed and we had lots of water damage throughout. Insurance did not give us nearly enough money. We started reaching out to them for more money … they didn’t even give us enough to do the roof.”
The Kitchens eventually hired a public adjuster.
“They fought for a while but didn’t get the insurance company to budge and now we have had to move onto a lawsuit,” she said. “There is no timeline at all for when we will be back in the house. We have not started any repairs on the house other than the roof.”
Daniele said she and her husband are not the only ones feeling the stress of the situation.
“We spent last Christmas displaced in a camper and not in our home and it looks like we will be spending this Christmas the same way,” she said. “My 9 year old deals with anxiety already and worries about everything and this all hasn’t helped the situation. This has had a huge impact of stress and anxiety on all of us. My boys lost just about everything … their bedrooms were destroyed and all their stuff in it. We are missing having a home and our own space.”
With a new hurricane season started, the Kitchens recently learned their insurance company dropped them and that they would need to find a new carrier.
“We need a renovation policy, which is about double,” Daniele said. “It’s like they control my entire life.”
Daniele said it has been a series of unfortunate events ever since the hurricane.
“I fell walking out the camper and sprained and tore a ligament in my ankle, so was in crutches and a boot for a while at one point,” she said. “I fight stomach issues and migraines due to stress. I just cry and worry all the time. It’s one thing after the next.”
Despite all of the hardships, Daniele said she knows her family is not alone.
“We know that there are people who are worse off than us and things could always be worse,” she said. “We don’t like complaining. It’s really a shame that insurance companies are not held liable for what they are doing to people who pay their premiums every year and when they make a claim this is what they get. At the end of the day we all keep going … taking it day by day and leaving it all in God’s hands. One thing we are thankful for is that we are all still here and healthy … the rest is all material things that we will replace one day.”