Morning Tornado Briefing: FEMA on Ground, Abbott Due Friday

Streets are passable, shops and restaurants are reopening, and Oncor, AT&T, and Spectrum are working through a shorter list every day of homes and businesses that still don’t have various services.

FEMA is in the area assessing the damage, too.

Today’s briefing also includes a warning about a scam that’s begun to circulate, as well as even more ways the community is continuing to come to the aid of students impacted by the Oct. 20 tornado.

FEMA Arrives

FEMA is now in the area, touring damage sites. It’s one of the first steps in pursuing federal money for disaster recovery — the agency’s assistance with preliminary assessments can lead to a federal disaster declaration.

Those steps start with research and touring the sites, then moves through the affected cities, the county, Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, and then the president’s desk. FEMA teams will look at public infrastructure and see what is covered by insurance and what local agencies could be left to pay for themselves.

Abbott has not seen the damage in person yet, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told reporters Wednesday, but he plans on bringing him to see some of the areas Friday when he is in town for a separate event.

Scammers Hitting Storm Victims with Deceptive Fliers

State law changed last month, and now insurance companies can require homeowners show proof they paid the deductible before the company releases funds to cover repairs. It’s now illegal for a contractor to waive that deductible.

But Dallas storm victims are now receiving fliers from a company that claims to have a workaround — a service that claims to pay insurance deductibles.

The fliers, which alarmingly state that “in Texas if you do not pay your insurance deductible you go to jail,” mention the new law, and one even claims to be a public service announcement and uses the Texas Department of Insurance logo.

Reports indicate the scam may be targeting older storm victims.

“Intentionally scaring and misleading people who are trying to recover from a devastating storm is unconscionable,” said Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan. “Homeowners were already required to pay the deductible. The new law helps protect them from bad contractors.”

One of the fliers also uses the name of Southlake State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, indicating he endorsed the company.

“One of the fliers used my name to appear as though I was quoted and endorsing the company,” said Capriglione. “I never spoke to anyone with this company, never gave consent for a quote to be used, and I never gave an endorsement of this fraudulent company. I want to thank the Texas Department of Insurance for quickly alerting Texans to this fraudulent activity and helping keep those who just experienced storm damage safe from deceitful and dishonest scammers.”

The Texas Department of Insurance says that if a contractor offers to waive the deductible, homeowners should report it to the Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-621-0508.

Photo Found After Tornado Needs Its Family

We were contacted to try to help a family recover a memory — a homeowner found this Polaroid photo in the back yard near Hill Haven and Midbury after the tornado, and would like to return it to its owner.

If you know the family this photo belongs to, email [email protected] with contact information, and we’ll put you in touch with the finder.

The Ashe to Host Fundraiser for Dallas Education Foundation

The Ashe, located at 5621 W. Lovers Lane, will host a “Cigars for Students” fundraiser to benefit the Dallas Education Foundation’s Tornado Relief Fund this Sunday.

Organizers said that a $50 ticket will get the buyer two Graycliff Cigars ($30 retail value), barbecue from Peggy Sue Barbecue, and beer from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The big screens will be tuned to NFL football, too.

Teams Pitch In Throughout the Area

Members of the Cowboys (plus the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders) and the Stars visited Walnut Hill Elementary and Franklin Middle School, respectively, Wednesday, with the former generating some adorable photos and videos.

Clayton Kershaw and Dirk Nowitzki visited first responders recently, including the displaced responders from Station 41.

Want to see more of our tornado coverage? You can see all past briefings and more here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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