Disaster relief organizations have been doing all they can to help Florida’s hurricane victims. FEMA’s Blue Roof Program has helped 35,000 people by supplying blue tarp to cover their damaged roofs. But what happens when the cure is worse than the illness?
Tim Hairston's home was virtually spared by Hurricane Ivan's wrath.
"No damage here or in the back, just three small areas in the front," says Tim Hairston.
So when a FEMA contractor arrived at his door and offered to cover the damaged part of his roof for free, Hairston was grateful. That was until he saw the job they had done.
"I went into town and when I came home they done covered my whole roof. I'm not a roofer, but I found out because they nailed these strips of wood to my roof it went from a $1,000 job to a $15,000 job, plus I'm going to have to replace the whole roof," explains Hairston.
Apparently, Hairston is not alone. His neighbor's entire roof was also covered by FEMA contractors, much to their dismay. The local roofer who told Hairston his roof would have to be replaced says the scam is widespread.
“When I saw it I said, 'oh no' this is another one totally covered by FEMA, and I've come across this for a month now. FEMA covers roofs that don't need to be covered," comments Roberto Price of Price Is Right Roofing.
Officials with FEMA say they've hired contractors to tarp more than 30,000 Panhandle roofs in Hurricane Ivan's aftermath, and although they say they've had very few complaints, they acknowledge that some contractors could have taken advantage of homeowners like Hairston.
"Any problem will be looked into by the Corp of Engineers and the contractor," explains Andrea Takash of Corps of Engineers.
Takash says any dishonest contractors will be held liable, but Price Hairston wants to know at what cost.
"I know these contractors are making so much money and the more tarp they put up, the more money they make,” Price says.
“I think FEMA is a wonderful organization doing wonderful things. It's the people they hired that took advantage of me, FEMA or whoever they could make a buck from," adds Hairston.
The contractor that tarped Hairston's entire roof is Collins and Associates out of Pensacola.
Price says many homeowners won't issue a complaint to FEMA because they want a new, free roof. Meanwhile, it's costing the government and taxpayers millions of dollars.