Officials warn of scammers looking to make money while residents try to rebuild
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 10:30pm
West,TX — West officials are urging residents to be on alert for scammers in the area. We're told contractors from across the country have come to West, some are actually willing to help and others come with bad intentions.
"We've had a lot of door to door people knocking, wanting to look at our home, and ask us if they can do repairs and stuff with companies that I'm not real sure of," said 25 year resident, Vicky Pustejovsky.
Pustejovsky has lived in West for 25 years. Her current home, she's lived in for 12 years, and it is fully paid off. She says the disaster damaged about six windows, her garage door, her back door, the roof, and created cracks in some of her walls.
As residents in West continue picking up the pieces and prepare to rebuild, many officials are cautioning against soliciting the wrong help.
"There's quite a bit of work that's going to happen up there, so these people come in, and they thrive on the elderly," said Kent Garbett, President of the Heart of Texas Builder's Association.
The Heart of Texas Builder's Association works with 250 to 300 contractors in the area. They are also providing assistance to help families locate credible help to rebuild their homes in West.
Some residents, like Pustejovsky, are already aware of the potential.
"I try to give advice to others to beware, you know, because you don't know who you can trust. People are out here to make their money, and they don't care if the job's a premiere job or if it's a half batch job," said Pustejovsky.
Pustejovsky is using a trusted contractor referred to her by her insurance company.
"We talked to our insurance company Thursday morning, after the blast. By Thursday afternoon, she was meeting me, giving me a check for living expenses because we were placed out of our home," said Pustejovsky.
The Heart of Texas Builder's Association says to avoid being scammed, don't pay in cash, avoid paying large down payments, and look for proper credentials. House Bill 1711, which was passed in 2011, is also in place to protect locals.
"People that come in from out of town, with over a one hundred mile radius, they need to register with the City of West, get their permits, and to be basically checked out," said Garbett.
Garbett says the city of West is also looking to get their TECQ permit to allow them to use the landfill for disposal of trash.
If you're still unsure about construction help, there will be a meeting on May 9, held by the Heart of Texas Builder's Association, at KC Hall in West with qualified builders and lenders on hand for questions. The Heart of Texas Builder's Association and the Texas Builder's Association will also host their annual golf tournament in mid-May. Normally the money is donated to a charitable cause, and this year it will all be donated to West. About $15,000 to $20,000 are expected to be raised.