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6 Investigates: Mortgage money held up to repair hurricane damage

Posted: 5:59 PM, Sep 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-11 11:07:08-04

By Jessica Savage

A Fulton man trying to rebuild his hurricane damaged home likely will have to finish the project on his own after a seven-month delay in receiving his insurance funds.

The delay involved a Houston-based mortgage company, which delayed turning over insurance money because it wanted more details about how the money would be spent. Selene Finance only agreed to release half of the insurance money after Kendrick asked 6 Investigates to look into the problems.

The  company has a lengthy list of complaints, including a complaint from a man in Florida who experienced similar insurance check delays from the mortgage company after his home was damaged by Hurricane Irma last year.

For Kendrick, the wait proved to be financially devastating. He expects to spend close to $160,000 to completely rebuild the back part of his home, which includes his master bedroom.

About $40,000 of it was covered by windstorm insurance, which is part of the money he’s waited to receive from the mortgage company. When that wait proved to be too long, Kendrick applied for a $100,000 loan from the Small Business Association. Those funds arrived about the time Selene Finance sent the first half of his money.

Part of the extensive damage had to do with the design. That section of his home is an addition to the original house, and was built with a flat roof, Kendrick said. During the storm, 140-per-mile winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Harvey caused water to seep into the walls. But what worsened the situation, Kendrick said, was the wait. Selene Finance held on to his insurance funds for seven months.

“It’s sitting there getting wet, getting mold and it’s getting everything else,” Kendrick said. “So we started ripping it apart and it just kept getting worse.”

Back in April, Kendrick asked 6 Investigates to get involved. After that, Selene Finance agreed to send him half of the insurance money – about $20,000. The money was enough for him to get started.

But Kendrick soon realized it was going to cost him a lot more money to finish the job.

“You see the rise in cost,” Kendrick said. “You see about a 10 to 15 percent hiked higher than what we would normally spend on stuff.”

And then there’s his personal sacrifice. For more than a year now – Kendrick and his wife have lived in a cramped quarters – turning a front room of their home into a bedroom.

“You know, it’s just tough,” he said. “It’s a different world.”

Kendrick also is the mayor of Fulton, and feels the weight of the recovery. It’s a perspective he frequently talked about when he discussed his own struggles from the hurricane.

“You know, that’s more than a lot of people got,” he said, referring to his living situation. “At least, I got a bathroom, you know. At least, I got a kitchen.”

He’s grateful, but uncertain about when his home will be rebuilt. He’s spent almost all of the insurance and loan money.

“I will have to finish it myself,” he said. “There is no doubt. I’m going to have to reach into my own thoughts and figure out a way to get it done. It’s just part of the game. A lot of people are in worse shape than I am.”

On Friday, a spokesman with Selene Finance said the rest of Kendrick’s insurance money was in the mail and would arrive today.