Police warn residents of scams after tornadoes rip through Coffee County

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

TULLAHOMA, Tenn. (WKRN) – A week after two tornadoes ripped through Coffee County, the cleanup continues.

Tullahoma police are now sending a warning to tornado victims – beware of out-of-state contractors or storm chasers, who may only be here to make a quick buck.

Goff’s Tree Experts from nearby Cannon County was already close by when the tornadoes hit Coffee County last week.

Goff’s Tree Experts has been hired to remove trees in the damaged area.

It is local, bonded and insured, and has its customer’s best interest at heart.

The owner, David Goff, was approached by a company he was unfamiliar with Sunday offering to help.

“I had one yesterday,” Goff said. “I asked if he had insurance and he walked away. That kind of get them out of here.”

SERV PRO of Coffee, Franklin and Warren counties is also making sure the locals are taking care of.

“I’ve already been in a lot of these houses in the past, so we already have a great relationship with a lot of these people,” SERVPRO Marketing manager Sue Milhatov said.

But that’s not always the case with out-of-state storm chasers.

“When you are faced with that kind of disaster in your life, you’re not really thinking straight, and so of course you are trying to make decisions quickly and that’s not always done with a straight and clear head,” Mihatov said. “So making sure people locally are here helping them is the best way to make sure the people are taking care of right.”

No one from Tullahoma Police Department was available to talk with News 2 Monday, but they are spreading the word about the fly-by-night companies on social media.

A Facebook post encourages victims especially the elderly to use reputable companies and be cautious of giving payment in advance.

“The trees went up in the air and came down on the house,” said Kenneth Harwell whose childhood home was damaged by the tornado.

Harwell was on the phone with his mother who was hunkered down in a closet as the tornado hit. He and his sister traveled from Atlanta to make sure the repairs were done correctly, and their parents were not taken advantage of.

“That’s a constant thing,” Harwell said. “I mean, they are constant moving from storm-to-storm-to- storm. Well like with any of those guys you have good and bad.

As police put it, a little common sense could prevent tornado victims from becoming victims of out of state storm chasers.

The Better Business Bureau is offering a few things to prevent tornado victims from being scammed.

First check with your insurance company, don’t be pressured into signing contracts.

For permanent repairs, take your time and shop around, get a written agreement, and always be wary of door-to-door workers claiming you home is unsafe.