COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Monday marks a transition in the claims process for damages from the oil disaster in the Gulf. British Petroleum is no longer running the claims offices, like the one in East Naples. An operation called "Gulf Coast Claims" is now taking claims.
"It doesn't help me one bit," said Rick Kalish, owner of Pack and Post, a packing and shipping store in downtown Naples. "I filed 8 weeks ago, and have not heard a word, nor have I gotten a check. I was told weeks ago, I would have an answer by August 23. Now, I have to file a second claim. It does no good to get angry, but I have lost a lot of money this summer because of lack of visitors, and I would like compensation, or at least an answer."
Kalish relies on many European visitors in summer to send things back home. Not this year. "The press they have been getting in Europe is keeping the visitors away. They believe there is oil everywhere on the beaches. Just look outside in Naples, there are very few visitors. I rely very much on those Europeans in summer. I have lost probably 30-thousand dollars this summer, and that is a large part of my normal off-season income," he told WINK News.
The people at Gulf Coast Claims in Collier County would only say, their office is open from 8am til 9pm, and will stay in operation for the time being. BP says it has paid out 399-million dollars in claims, and is turning the process over to Gulf Coast Claims and to the independent pay-master, Kenneth Feinberg.
A spokeswoman for Gulf Coast Claims in Washington DC told WINK: "People do have to file another claim, if they have not heard an answer on their first claim. They can do it on-line, in person, or by mail. Feinberg is promising to move quickly on the claims, and to send out checks within 48 hours of approval to individuals, and 7 days to businesses."
It means more paperwork and waiting for Rick Kalish. "Right now, I just want an answer, so I can know whether I get some money, and if I do not get it, I will have to decide whether to hire an attorney."