Claims process not any better, still slow

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - By Al Showers – bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - When Ken Feinberg took over the oil spill claims process, he promised a faster and more efficient operation than BP had run. However some Hancock County Fishermen say so far, they have not been impressed.

Randy Bourgeois has been a commercial fisherman for most of his life. Before the gulf oil disaster, trapping crabs was his main source of income.

"I can't sell any crabs right now. I dealt with about a dozen different buyers. I've got enough assets to hold me for about six months, then after that I'm going to be in trouble," said Bourgeois.

Bourgeois said he filed a claim with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility on August 23rd, the day it opened.

That was the same day Kenneth Feinberg promised a 48 hour response on individual claims and a seven day turn around for business claims.

Two weeks after that deadline. Bourgeois received a check.

"So, I finally get a check Friday from Feinberg. It's 70 percent less than what BP was giving me. Then they made it out to a company name which I don't have, cause they told me I had to put a company name on it. So I had to give them the check back, so I'm still without anything to live off of right now and not being able to work," explained Bourgeois.

Nick Signorelli says his situation is critical. He, too, filed an early claim but has yet to see a dime.

"A couple of days past seven days is one thing but three, four weeks, that just don't seem unacceptable. That's way beyond a seven day turn around," said Signorelli.

A spokesman for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility told WLOX News, a large volume of new claims came in when Feinberg took over, and due to missing documents and the complexity of some of the claims, the fast track deadlines Feinberg promised have been revised.

The spokesman went on to say the staff is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week in three shifts to process claims as quickly as possible. But that doesn't help fishermen like Nick Signorelli right now.

"I just find that very hard to believe. My electricity has been shut-off. My kids can't even stay in our own house right now," Signorelli said.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility's spokesman told WLOX NEWS, since Feinberg took over, more than 14,000 claims have been processed and paid totaling $141 million in the Gulf States. $14 million of that was paid to people in Mississippi.

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