Alabamians frustrated with oil spill claims process

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - "It's just chaos," says Brad Armagost.

He's a Montgomery resident and owns a condo in Gulf Shores. He usually rents it to tourists, but when the oil came ashore?

"People started canceling very quickly."

The rentals had helped offset his expenses. But with the condos empty, Armagost and his co-owner are left footing the bill on their own.

They filed a $6,000 dollar claim hoping Kenneth Feinberg--the man in charge of the claims process-- could help.

"We decided let's wait until Feinberg takes over because this guy's a pro...this is what they do and surely the process will be better...but it's just as bad," says Armagost.

He says not only have they not gotten any money...

"Every time it's, oh, go back and get this, you gotta get us that."

The pace of the BP payments to Alabamians has prompted more than a dozen meetings between Governor Bob Riley and Feinberg.

Riley's office says the Governor is frustrated with the inconsistency and timing of the claims process.

The Governor sent this letter to Feinberg - demanding to know how many residents and businesses have filed and been paid - in full.

He also questioned if people overseeing the payments are compensated based on how many claims they've processed or the amount of money paid out.

A spokeswoman for Feinberg tells WSFA 12 News Feinberg's office received the Governor's letter and he will respond soon.

But it's not soon enough for folks like Armagost, who is feeling the pain for others, too.

"I can't imagine the other businesses and what they're going through."

While Armagost doesn't know if he'll ever get the money he believes he's owed, he's glad the Governor is trying to help.

He hopes Mr. Riley steps it up another notch, soliciting more help from Alabama's congressional delegation.

Bp says it has paid more than $657 million for grants, claims and recovery costs in Alabama.

Nearly $420 million dollars went directly to businesses and individuals.

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