HOUSTON, TX-- We've all seen the beautiful people who've come out to help the families affected by the floods. But Texas attorney general Ken Paxton is warning us to be wary of the ugly folks, those who try to take advantage of flood victims.
He warns if you're looking for a contractor to fix your place, do your homework. Ask for references and check them out with the Better Business Bureau before you sign a contract.
You should also contact the local licensing board for complaints. You can do that through Angie's List. It usually costs you to join, but right now, they're offering it free when you call 866-331-7541. Just expect a long wait on the phone when calling.
Another tip comes the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association. They say scammers are calling homes, asking for credit or debit card donations to help flood victims. The callers claim to be associated with Houston Fire Fighters. Don't believe 'em! The HPFFA says they never raise funds over the phone.
Larchmont is a neighborhood near the Galleria that has flooded twice in the last year. Residents there know more than a little about flood recovery. What's their best advice?
"My first reaction after any flood is always sit down and cry or scream," says JoAnn Denney. She and her husband Dick have been flooded out of their home three times, twice recently and once during Tropical Storm Allison 15 years ago.
Dick has come up with a way to protect their items and allow them to be moved quickly when a flood shows up. "On the floor of our closets, where most people store most of what they own, (we) put the tall flat plastic bins in there and store stuff in that," he suggests. "That'll give you time if it's a deep flood. If it's a shallow flood, you don't have to worry about it."
JoAnn's son gave her this advice in the first flood she faced: "Mother, you just have to take one drawer, one piece of furniture, one room at a time."
And don't forget the flood insurance, says Dick, no matter where you live in Houston, "They've had flooding as long as I can remember, and I've been here since 1941."
Sage advice from from folks who've faced the floods and made it through.