3 On Your Side: Storm victim petitioning White House
GA. (WRCB) -- Since this summer Channel 3 has been following the story of a Rossville
homeowner whose house was destroyed when Tropical Storm Lee ripped through the
area last year.
It's been 15 months since a falling oak tree destroyed her home. And while we
have been able to help get her insurance money for repairs, more than a year
later she's hit another brick wall.
last visited Shearon Gass about a month ago, there has been a lot of work done
on her home.
was by her side when her insurance company and bank refused to write a check
more than a year after a tree destroyed her home.
help the first check worth about $42,000 was written without incident. But just
as Gass was about to receive her last check worth $63,000, she hit another
"For whatever reason on this one now, because of the economy being the way
that it is and property values being what they are, the amount of damage done to
the home, she's trying to lay claim to that check," Gass says.
referring to the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy trustee in Atlanta.
In 2009, Gass
filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, but says she's never missed a payment and it's
scheduled to be paid off this year.
But now she
fears she may not have a home or anything to call her own.
"It's soul-breaking," Gass says. "It's been so horrible, without my faith
I just would not have made it. There's absolutely no way I could've made it
"The Chapter 13 is a very powerful program that protects people who care
about keeping things," says Eron Epstein.
Eron Epstein is a bankruptcy attorney in Chattanooga. He says a bankruptcy
trustee may be required to sign off on an insurance settlement.
shouldn't be something that slows the process down more than a day,"
But in Gass'
case it has. Epstein says he's seen this happen before.
"A number of motions were filed by debtor's attorneys and the court ruled
in every case that we're aware of, that that was not an adequate defense to
paying the debtor," Epstein says. "That they were entitled to the proceeds and
they couldn't be discriminated against on the basis of being in default on the
reaching out to the highest level of government, the president.
started a petition to allow disaster victims to rebuild without bankruptcy
courts or lenders being allowed to take insurance funds.
"It may be too late to help me, but it's not too late to help them,"
She's talking about storm victims along the East Coast who felt the wrath of Superstorm
"With the people that are going through this now with Sandy, they have no
idea what's fixing to happen to them," Gass says.
people sign the petition, an emergency legislation will allow the funds to be
used for rebuilding.
a minimum 25,000 signatures by Christmas Day, before the White House will issue a response.