MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Mid-South has seen widespread destruction from deadly tornadoes for the last two weeks in a row. However, as families try to rebuild their lives and communities, sadly, crooks are trying to take advantage of victims’ needs and everyone else’s generosity.
News Channel 3 has some information about how storm victims can find reliable help for repairs and some advice anyone can use if they’re looking to help their neighbors in need.
#1 Investigate Before You Donate
- Research charities
- Background charities through websites like the Better Business Bureau, Guide Star or Charity Navigator (Charity Navigator includes a current section on recent storm relief efforts)
- Be cautious with crowdfunding sites
Daniel Irwin with the Better Business Bureau of the MidSouth says consumers want to make sure their hard-earned money is going to organizations that are not only real but truly equipped to handle the situation.
“You want to look for charities that are established in the community and, again, have the infrastructure to use your funds where it’s actually affecting people. Another thing to look out for is if any organization is telling you that 100% of your funds are going to go directly to relief. That may or may not be true. Keep in mind that organizations have overhead costs. The bigger the organization, the more the overhead. So just be really wary of 100% claims or like that,” said Irwin.
#2 Avoid Storm Repair Scams
If you or a loved one has been affected by the recent storms, contact your insurance company to find out what’s covered. In addition, look into applying for disaster assistance with government agencies like FEMA.
FEMA offers assistance to storm victims in Arkansas
When it comes to repairs, it’s critical to thoroughly research a company before hiring them for a job.
Here are a few important steps to follow:
- Check for an active license and any possible disciplinary actions taken against the company
- Find a Licensed Contractor in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee
- Ask about their insurance
- Read reviews, check for complaints with the BBB
- Ask around for references
Irwin said, “You want to make sure that anybody doing a repair to your home is licensed to do the work that they say they’re going to do. And I know that it’s really hard to hear this, but sometimes price shouldn’t be the factor when you’re choosing who to do the work.”
Irwin also said victims should beware of storm chasers. These are people who come into town and go door-to-door soliciting business for things like roof repairs.
“Remember, legitimate, well-known contractors are going to be too busy right after a storm to show up at your house and give you a quote on-site,” added Irwin.
#3 Plan Now for Later
The storm recovery process is a difficult time to have to make such important decisions, so Irwin also said a good rule of thumb is to have a plan before you actually need it.
Remember, legitimate, well-known contractors are going to be too busy right after a storm to show up at your house and give you a quote on-site.
“In the middle of a tragedy, in the middle of experiencing this, you’re not going to have the wherewithal to think about all these things. So, my recommendation would be to have a plan before this happens. Have a go-to painter, have a go-to electrician, have a go-to tree trimmer, have a go-to contractor. Know who you would call in an emergency,” Irwin said.