Citing what the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) says is a lower than expected number of claimant visits, the GCCF announced its offices in Grand Isle, Lafitte and Morgan City will close June 1.
"After a comprehensive review of the 35 GCCF site offices throughout the Gulf, the GCCF has decided to close eight of the claims offices throughout the Gulf region," says Camille Biros of Feinberg-Rozen, the law firm headed by Gulf Coast claims czar Kenneth Feinberg, in an email to Gambit. One office in Alabama and four offices in Florida also will close.
The Grand Isle office will be consolidated with the office in Cut Off (16263 E. Main St., in the Tarpon Heights Shopping Center); the Lafitte office will move to the Gretna office (2701 Manhattan Blvd., Suite 12A); and the Morgan City office will move to the New Iberia office (956 S. Lewis St.). Employees working at the closing offices will be reassigned to other GCCF offices.
In an email to Gambit, Amy Weiss with Point Blank Public Affairs, which represents Feinberg, wrote, "The consolidation of these offices continues the effort of the GCCF to optimize and provide the most efficient way to assist claimants by consolidating and reassigning our most knowledgeable staff with experience in GCCF processes and procedures to the busiest GCCF Claims Office facilities experiencing the highest volume and frequency of visiting claimants."
Several state lawmakers whose constituents use those offices were irate at the news. "For Mr. Feinberg and BP to decide that the Grand Isle facility, the Lafitte facility and the Morgan City facility should be closed without having 100 percent claims paid out is a travesty," said state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma. "For them to say that Grand Isle is good enough for the president to come down personally and call the epicenter of this disaster, yet it's not good enough for a claims facility, is just ridiculous."
Chabert noted that Grand Isle residents who still need to file claims will now have to drive into his district, which abuts the island, "But they shouldn't have to drive up at all," he says. "The BP people should be knocking on doors to help people, not closing down the office that's set up to help them." — Alex Woodward