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Be Prepared For Severe Winter Weather

You’re not alone if you are a bit anxious due to next week’s severe winter predictions from the National Weather Service for East Texas. Be prepared. Winter storm Uri in February 2021 resulted in over 500,000 insurance claims and tens of billions of dollars in storm-related expenses due to power loss, infrastructure damage, and other economic factors, according to the Texas State Comptroller’s Office

While natural disasters and severe weather often inspire people to help those in need, unfortunately, they also bring out dishonest individuals and disreputable businesses who attempt to take advantage of those who need assistance. Better Business Bureau (BBB) reminds people to watch out for people who make a living by taking advantage of others.

“If you require assistance after any severe weather incident, make sure you do your homework before hiring a contractor,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Central East Texas. “Victims of severe storm damage should never feel forced to make a hasty decision.

If you experience damage due to severe winter weather, BBB provides the following recommendations:

Contact your insurance company. Ask about your policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts for food, temporary lodging, or other expenses your policy may cover. Your insurance company may also have recommended contractors.

Do your research. Find contractors you can trust on You can even use BBB’s free Request a Quote program to receive bids from up to three BBB Accredited Businesses.

Avoid high-pressure sales. Refrain from being pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. Be proactive in selecting a business and not reactive to sales solicitations.

Verify those who come to your door. BBB has received reports of individuals posing as utility company employees requesting personally identifiable informationBe wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have left-over materials from a job “down the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business or signage on their vehicle. Before providing any information or payment to any individual, confirm they are who they say they are and ensure they are reputable.

Use extra caution if you can’t see it. While most contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your roof, attic, crawl spaces, ducts, and other places you cannot easily access or see for yourself. An unethical contractor creates damage to get work.

Get it in writing. Require a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. Be sure their name, address, license number, if applicable, and phone number are included in the contract. Please read and understand the contract, and never sign a blank contract

Never pay for work in full in advance. Pay only half before the contractor begins repairs. A good rule of thumb is to deliver one-third before, one-third when 50% of the work is completed, and the remaining balance once you are satisfied.

Hire locally whenever possible. If the company is not from the area, they are less likely to come back and make a repair should you find something they missed. Go to to find a contractor near you.

Victims of severe storm damage should never be forced to make a hasty decision or choose an unknown contractor. Start with companies you can trust by going to

BBB, serving Central East Texas, fosters a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining truthful advertising standards and investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please go to or call 903-581-5704 24 hours a day for information on companies throughout North America. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services are free of charge to consumers. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit for more details. There are over 100 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, founded in 1985 and serving 19 counties.