NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Many families battling the clock to save as much as they can from tornado-damaged properties are now fighting another battle to get assistance from their insurance or FEMA.
Bertha Estrada has lived in the same home on Oakview Drive in North Little Rock for over 20 years, but for all of April, she’s been wandering and wondering what’s next.
Six people were in the home when an EF-3 twister overtook them, and placed tree after tree onto their home, cars, and street.
“You can lose everything in 5 minutes. 5 minutes is all it took to destroy all of this,” Estrada lamented. “I never imagined what is the feeling to be running for your life until now.”
Even with rooms clear and family to stay with, the complications are piling up almost as high as the debris pile outside Estrada’s home. One car completely crushed by a tornado-topped tree in their driveway is not covered by auto insurance because it only had liability insurance.
It is not just car insurance, the Estradas are worried about it. It’s their home too. It’s been a week since she filed a claim with her home insurance company, but no one has inspected her home. Moreover, FEMA denied them coverage.
According to FEMA Pulaski County Public Information Officer Thomas Kempton, the government agency cannot provide double coverage.
“That’s the most common reason for denial, the lack of insurance information,” Kempton explained.
Kempton added that is likely why this denial was made, but other common reasons include incorrect information or a lack of proof of ownership.
“They can’t do anything because of federal law until an insurance company has made the determination,” Kempton said. “But once they get that inspection done, they can come into FEMA and file an appeal for it.”
FEMA can reimburse expenses for renting safe housing and tools for your job that were damaged if you qualify Kempton stated. The Estradas do plan to appeal their FEMA claim, but as their house gets worse every day, Bertha questions how long it could take them to get any help.
“It’s hard. It’s hard because now we need to start from the bottom again,” Estrada said.
The Estradas are working their hardest to supplement their income through a food truck Bertha runs with her daughter Leslie.
They also organized a GoFundMe but say you can purchase any menu item from Tacos Del Norte at 3225 East Carmichael Road in Cabot to help.
“I wish this to no one because you will be traumatized I guess for your whole life,” Estrada said.