Settle or fight? A tornado victim challenges her insurer's offer - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Settle or fight? A tornado victim challenges her insurer's offer

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DADE COUNTY, GA. (WRCB)-- Tough though it may be to revisit what the EF-3 tornado wrought upon her mother's home in Trenton, Georgia April 27, Kathy Moore's convinced that the worst of the damage is what she can't see.

"I see things I didn't notice the last time I was here," she says. It took every bit of the popcorn (sealer) off the ceiling in my old bedroom."

She's hired structural engineer Steve Hendrix to look for the 'deal breakers'.

"I've been doing this for 30 years," he says.

She's hopeful he'll help make her case for over-ruling her insurer, State Farm, that it's fixable.

"It may not be totally structurally damaged," he says. But by the time you determine whether the structure has been compromised, and you try to reinforce or stabilize it, it may be more sound, or cheaper, to start over rather than to repair it.

State Farm's settlement offer, about $53,00 is less than half of the home's insured value. It's barely half of its valuation for property tax purposes.

"This is my mother's home 40 years," Kathy says. "I think she thinks it will be the same. I don't see that."

For those who choose to rebuild, the toughest challenge is making sure that it conforms to current building codes. Given the sheer number of properties damaged or destroyed, inspectors expect to be overwhelmed.

Help is coming to Trenton and to Dade County.

"The city has one inspector He's brought on two people to help him," Dade County Executive Ted Rumley tells Eyewitness News.

"Twenty two Georgia counties will split $5 million in federal grants to hire temporary workers to track the cleanup and rebuilding.

"But there's a lot of people, several people that are not gonna go back," Rumley says. "A lot of these homes will come off the tax rolls, totally. the ones that don't rebuild back."

Kathy Moore expects to wait at least two weeks for Hendrix to deliver the findings from his inspection.

Georgia's insurance laws entitle State Farm to its own second opinion. An 'umpire' will mediate if its inspector, and Hendrix can't agree to a dollar figure or scope of a settlement.

But she's determined, even if she's still waiting for answers come Fall.

"It was my home growing up," she says. "All holidays all family gatherings are here. All the gifts given my mother, that she's worked for."

"Yes. it's worth fighting for."

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