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Franklin residents told to beware of fraud following weather damage

Roof repairs
Posted at 6:34 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 19:34:48-04

FRANKLIN, TX — We're on day five of clean up in Franklin after an EF-3 tornado ripped through the city on Saturday.

Volunteers have been out in full force since, jumping at the opportunity to help out a neighbor.

Not many people would offer to haul wood on their day off, but for Danny Pendley and his wife, Belinda, it was an easy call.

"We're like, first chance we get, let's run over there," Danny said. "They just need muscle, so I guess I can provide the muscle for the day."

"We're tired, but it's good," Belinda said. "It feels good to help people."

The couple lives in Bryan. On Wednesday, they packed their lunches and drove 30 minutes away Franklin to lend a hand.

"We had damage on our end, blew over oak trees and such, but nothing like this," Danny said. "I have plenty to do around my house, but they're in worse shape than I am."

They found Jose Lopez alone in his yard cutting down a fallen tree. They spent the morning helping him drag debris to the curb.

"They did a lot. I'm grateful that they came and helped," Lopez said. "It's real nice. There are a lot of people helping."

While there are countless good people doing their part, Robertson County officials are warning homeowners to be mindful of scammers who prey on those affected by natural disasters.

If someone comes to your home asking for money for repairs, Robertson County Emergency Management Coordinator Billy Huggins said to ask for their identification and proof of permit.

Huggins said all contracts are required to go through the City of Franklin to register before they can to door-to-door offering services.

Huggins said you should do your research and ask multiple questions to verify a company's credibility before you give them your business.

He said no fraud cases have been reported just yet. If you feel like you've been approached by a scammer, call City Hall at 979-828-3257 or the Robertson County Sheriff's Office at 979-828-3299.

Belinda and Danny said the good people outweigh the bad in Franklin.

"These people have lost, in a lot of cases, everything," Belinda said. "I can't imagine someone taking advantage of that. It's very sad."

"If something bad happens, I always tell my kids and grandkids, watch and see the helpers," Danny said. "God sends in helpers. When everyone else is running away, you'll see the helpers running in."

Helpers who remind Lopez that the rain won't last forever.

To avoid falling victim to a scammer, the BBB suggests:

  • Contact your insurance company. You want to check your insurance policy to see what’s covered and make adjustments accordingly. Your insurance company may also recommend contractors.
  • Resist high-pressure sales. Some storm chasers use tactics such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.
  • Be especially careful of door-to-door contractors. Many municipalities require a solicitation permit if sales people go door-to-door. Ask for identification. Check their vehicle for a business name, phone number and Texas license plate.
  • Don’t sign over insurance checks to contractors. Get an invoice from the contractor and pay them directly.
  • Be wary regarding damages you can’t see. While most contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your roof and other areas of your house.
  • Do your research. Find businesses you can trust on http://BBB.org.