Two months later, Bryan Co. tornado victims face insurance issues

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BRYAN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) – Some people in the north end of Bryan County say they are in the worst stage of their recovery from a deadly EF-4 tornado – dealing with insurance companies.

We are approaching the two-month mark since families left their homes on a normal day and returned destroyed.

“It’s just very heartbreaking that you can go to work, you can pay your bills, you can do everything the right way, and then you come home and you don’t have what you had that morning and you have to fight to get a fraction of that back,” said tornado victim Yvonne Whitfield.

Yvonne and Eric Whitfield live in Ellabell, one of the most damaged areas.

“You don’t think this could happen to you,” said tornado victim Eric Whitfield.

The family thought losing their ‘dream home’ was the worst, but they said now they don’t see a return on their investment when they thought they had all the insurance and replacement cover they needed .

“We’re looking at $185,000 just to replace our house,” Yvonne said.

The couple said it would take $265,000 to replace everything they lost. And they said having to get a loan from the SBA didn’t make it any easier because the SBA lends the money after deducting the amount the insurance pays for the home and its contents.

“How is that fair? We just had to add 300 and something to our bills which we didn’t expect…it’s a 30 year loan.

The tornado actually moved the house 6 inches from its foundation. They are in an RV until they can rebuild.

Yvonne said: “We have to rent the motorhome, but they don’t pay for any of that. We still have to pay a mortgage and our normal bills.

The Whitfields said neighbors and other tornado victims share the same stories and they just want people to know that in the worst case of another disaster, people need to know what insurance will do. and will not.

“I don’t wish this on anyone and I’m disappointed in how I feel our community has been treated by the insurance companies.”

Regardless of what insurance does to help, the family said they are starting demolition on Monday and hopefully by September they will have their home back.

The WTOC has spoken to the office of the state insurance commissioner to see how many people have filed complaints with them. They said they only received 4-5 that were settled.

You can always file a complaint with their office. The state will reach out to your insurance company.

Georgian law gives insurance companies 15 working days to respond and provide evidence.

You can also call the office directly at (800) 656-2298.

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