NEW ORLEANS – A lawyer from New Orleans has exposed the struggles faced by victims of natural disasters like hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Isaac, even Superstorm Sandy, predicting that those affected by the August flood in Louisiana will encounter the same problems.
The prolonged rainfall in August caused catastrophic flooding in the southern parts of Louisiana. Thousands of homes and business establishments were submerged in floodwaters. Properties worth millions have been destroyed. The extent of the damage from the flood had it tagged as the worst natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012.
Unlike the people affected by Superstorm Sandy, the majority of the Louisiana flood victims had no flood insurance. This plight of the citizens prompted the federal government to seek help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide disaster aid to those in need. However, the victims are predicted to have a difficult path ahead in terms of claiming the support they are to receive from the government.
According to John W. Houghtaling II, a lawyer in New Orleans, the victims of the August storm are set to meet the same fate as those affected by Superstorm Sandy. He noted that FEMA could once again be engaged in fraudulent means to underpay the Louisiana victims in the same way they attempted to deceive his clients years ago.
“It is absolutely going to happen again,” Houghtaling said in a Baton Rouge Business Report article.
Houghtaling administered the National Flood Insurance Program at the time of Hurricane Sandy and is recognized as one of the crucial players in the case brought by the victims of Hurricane Sandy against FEMA. Houghtaling represents approximately 800 plaintiffs in the litigation.
Houghtaling is a managing partner at the New Orleans-baseed Gauthier, Houghtaling & Williams law firm. The New Orleans attorney also is known to be an entrepreneur, as well as an oil and gas executive at the export company American Ethane.
Also an actor, the New Orleans lawyer took center stage in the field of disaster recovery when he was appointed as special counsel to the attorney general of Louisiana in 2005. His task was to help in the litigation of the cases involving policyholder rights following the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. His efforts to fight for the rights of the disaster victims resulted in the rebuilding measures of thousands of damaged properties in different states, which were then funded by the insurance money.
Following this success, Houghtaling has gained prominence in the area and was once again sought to help the victims of hurricanes Ike, Gustav and Sandy. However, it was in 2014 when he performed groundbreaking work not only for his firm, but also for the state and the victims of the natural disasters.
Two years ago, the United States federal court named Houghtaling as one of the liaison counsels of the plaintiffs who were engaged in a legal battle against FEMA. While serving his clients, Houghtaling discovered the fraud perpetuated by the organization in the administration of the National Flood Insurance Program. His clients included victims from New York and New Jersey.
The information revealed by Houghtaling and his team resulted in victories for his clients and prompted FEMA to acknowledge that fraud was committed. According to the agency, third parties were used to underpay the victims of the natural disaster. This opened doors for 144,000 victims of the storm to have their cases re-examined.