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Caldwell County family continues clean up after storm damage, warns others about post-storm scams

Posted at 6:55 PM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 19:55:18-04

CALDWELL COUNTY, Mo. — The Duncan family, who lost so much so fast during Sunday's storms, is still working to clean up the remains of their home.

The storms that quickly came and left, impacted parts of the Kansas City metro and served as a reminder of how quickly storms can turn your home and life inside out.

The storms also served as a reminder of how damage like the Duncan family suffered can also be a target for potential scammers trying to profit off of a terrible situation.

Benjamin Duncan, son to homeowners John and JoEllen, got emotional as he looked at what was left of his childhood home.

“I grew up in this home walking in and seeing the house that we built together as a family it’s kind of heart breaking because a house is a house, but this is my home,” Duncan said.

Duncan, along with his four other sibling, built the house with his parents nearly 20 years ago. Today, he and his family are trying to regroup and rebuild for another 20 years.

“The goal is for them to rebuild, they’d like to rebuild and repair it’s probably going to be a long journey probably 6 - 8 months,” Duncan said.

However, as the family spent Monday with insurance agencies and appraisers’ assessing the damages, Duncan said that he and his parents were warned about potential scammers coming to take advantage of their horrible situation.

"The appraiser actually gave us some tips and tricks as far as locking the front door and putting some screws and kind of putting some things up just to keep people away,” Duncan said.

Nikolas Reese, operations manager at the Kansas City Better Business Bureau, said this magnitude of damage the Duncan family suffered from is an easy target for fraudulent contractors and others claiming they want to help.

“Contractors from out of town or possibly even out of state," Reese said. "You’ll encounter them going door-to-door as they solicit any property that’s visibly damaged that they can see from the street."

However, Reese said if you or someone you know finds yourself in a situation like the Duncans, contact your insurance company first.

“Make sure everything is going to be covered before hand whenever you do decide on a contractor make sure that you don’t sign your insurance check over to them, and that the contract doesn’t give any rights to them, and that you pay them directly,” Reese said.

Reese explains how the scammers will use high-pressure sales tactics to lure you in, but it's important to be vigilant no matter how badly you want to get your house back to normal.

“Typically what to look out for they’ll tell you, you can't pay with a credit card anything like that, they’ll refuse to give you an invoice other than just the estimate before hand," Reese said. "Often times basically just shortly after a storm we always advise to contact your insurance company first before anything to figure what all is going to be covered by it."

If you are concerned about contractors or agencies claiming they want to help, the Better Business Bureau said they can help assess who is legit and who is trying to run a scam.

“If you have a name or a phone number, you can call us and we’ll look into it to see if we have gotten any complaints, reviews or scam tracker reports or anything like that for the business name,” Reese said.

For now, the Duncans said they are simply trying to rebuild the last 20 years, and if you would like to help be sure to visit their GoFundMe Page.