News and Tribune

September 28, 2012

Words of warning: Meeting helps tornado victims avoid scams

By BRADEN LAMMERS
braden.lammers@newsandtribune.com

HENRYVILLE — March 2 Recovery, the long-term recovery committee for Clark, Jefferson and Washington counties, held its regular meeting in Henryville on Thursday.

As the group continues to help individuals in northern Clark County affected by the tornadoes that tore through the region March 2, it is entering another phase of recovery. Carolyn King, executive director of March 2 Recovery, said the organization is still finding people that need help, but it’s also readying for a large amount of construction work that is about to begin.

Alan Shepard, financial committee chairman for March 2 Recovery, said the money the organization paid out for construction projects in July was negligible. But for the financial summary for August the March 2 Recovery expenses totaled 21 percent.

“That ... piece of the pie will really begin to balloon out over the next few months,” he said.

According to the case management study from March 2 Recovery, in the three-county region 156 out of a total of 405 cases have already been closed and 29 cases have already reached the construction phase of their project.

To make sure the residents affected by the tornado are not being taken advantage of by illegitimate businesses, organizers with March 2 Recovery invited Terry Tolliver, deputy director of the consumer protection division for the office of the Indiana Attorney General, to offer some suggestions and words of warning for area residents.

“Consumers are getting to the point where these repairs are being made and they’re starting to notice issues,” he said. “And because of that we were invited down to talk to consumers: Here’s what you need to watch for ... here’s some things to be careful about, so that you’re not taken advantage of.”

With some construction and repairs already completed Tolliver said, “you’re now in a position to ask your neighbors.”

He suggested talking to your neighbors if they have already had repairs done about the company they used when looking for good businesses or contractors. Doing that also gives individuals a chance to see the quality of the repairs.

Tolliver offered a number of websites to check the credentials of companies, referencing the Attorney General’s website as a place to check if a business or contractor has been involved in a lawsuit.

“That’s the most important thing for you is that [a contractor does] what they say they’re going to do, when they say they’re going to do it and it costs what they say it’s going to cost,” he said.

Tolliver also warned to check the legitimacy of more than just contracting businesses. He said to also check the legitimacy of charities.

“If there’s any doubt, call or send questions to the attorney general’s office,” he said.

With the warnings, there was also praise for the generosity of the people in the area.

“Overall, people have been good, people have been generous, it’s just always good to be cautious,” King said.

The next meeting for the March 2 Recovery committee is Oct. 25.

For more information about the organization visit march2recovery.org.