Buyer Beware: Hurricane Damaged Cottages

Friday, March 13, 2009 - 5:38pm

There is an NBC33 consumer alert involving flood-damaged homes in Livingston Parish. Those homes are about to be auctioned off, even though authorities say they may not be fit to live in.

The state of Mississippi banned those homes after Gustav swept across the gulf region. Now, a local company is defending its decision t put them up for sale.

Among the vast array of machines, construction equipment, and automobiles on display at Henderson Auctions sit two quaint modular homes, but it may be a case of buyer beware. Janet Cagley of Henderson Auctions says, “They have salvaged titles and of course we are advertising and passing them off as salvaged titles.” Salvaged meaning once flooded with the potential of mold very likely.

On April 25 the company plans on auctioning off over 230 cottages from Mississippi, all damaged in Hurricane Gustav. The cottages were built by the state to house nearly 2,800 families who lost their homes in Katrina, but after being caught in the floodwaters of Gustav, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency deemed the units unlivable. “It’s not illegal for us to sell them by all indications, but MEMA thinks they are dangerous and should have been destroyed.”

The agency wanted the cottages to be dismantled and turned into scrap but Janet Cagleys says the homes are structurally sound. “They range from little visible damage to extensive visible damage. We’ve rated them 1-4, just for our customers to know what they want to look at.” She says that with a little work they’re as good as new. “People across this country and especially our states with our recent devastation that live in units less fit than this.”

Henderson Auctions says they are not trying to deceive anyone. They will ask all customers to sign a notice detailing the conditions of the cottages. “We feel they are no different than any other home on the coast of Louisiana or Mississippi that has been flooded and can be repaired. It’s up to the individual what to do with them.”

The State Fire Marshal just informed us that Henderson Auctions does not have a license to take bids on the cottages yet, but when they do the homes will have to be sold as scrap and buyers will have to fix them to meet building codes.