Attorney General Alerts

Don’t Get Over Your Head in Flood Damage

May 15, 2015

Weekend storms and heavy rainfall caused damage and destruction across Arkansas. An EF2 tornado touched down in Nashville Sunday night killing two and destroying structures in its path. Meanwhile, high water is creating another set of problems for some Arkansans, with more rain set to hit the State this weekend.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate Arkansans about the steps to take if flood waters reach their home.

“Many of our friends and neighbors are cleaning up and are realizing the full scope of destruction,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Rivers across Arkansas are above flood levels, and if that water reaches structures, it will cause major damage. Consumers need to take the appropriate steps to recover their property and be aware of con artists who will attempt to take advantage during this difficult time.”

On Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared 10 counties disaster areas, including Franklin, Garland, Howard, Izard, Johnson, Montgomery, Newton, Pike, Pope and Searcy counties. This allows the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to provide resources and seek federal assistance for residents of those counties.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers who are cleaning up water damage in their home:

  • Call your insurance agent. If they cover the damage, your agent should have an adjuster contact you.
  • Make a list of the damage and take photographs or video as you clean. This documentation will be needed for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.
  • Clear away any mud and clean and disinfect every surface.
  • Check with the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau before hiring anyone to clean up or make repairs.
  • Get multiple estimates and compare prices.
  • Turn off all electrical and heating and cooling systems to be inspected and repaired or cleaned by a qualified or licensed contractor.
  • Appliances and electronics should be professionally cleaned and serviced to prevent electrocution.
  • Never pay in advance for any repair service, and inspect the completed project before making the final payment.
  • Communicate with your insurance company directly rather than authorizing a contractor to negotiate with the company.

Attorney General Rutledge also warns consumers to be on the lookout for flood damaged cars re-entering the market.

“Scammers can make cosmetic repairs to flood-damaged vehicles,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Consumers should inspect all vehicles for water stains and mildew in the vents and behind the dashboard, look under the hood for signs of oxidation and have a certified mechanic look over the vehicle before it is purchased.”

Carfax reports that as many as 5,000 flooded cars were on the market in Arkansas prior to this week’s storms and that number is expected to increase. A vehicle’s title should reflect any flood damage, and Arkansas law requires dealerships place a separate disclosure in the window of cars for sale that have previously been submerged. But consumers should be careful if purchasing a vehicle through private sale because, although the seller is required to notify the buyer of any flood damage, a posted disclosure is not mandatory.

For more information on tips to avoid home repair scams and other consumer related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982.

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