BRUNSWICK, GA. | The largest insurance companies stood under canopies in Brunswick and Kingsland on Monday, helping the victims of Tropical Storm Irma initiate the insurance claims process.
Not every insurance company doing business in Georgia came to the two damaging villages – Home Depot in Brunswick and County Recreation Center in Kingsland – but Assistant Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence said, “We have the big ones.”
As of Friday, around 50,000 applications had been made nationwide, Florence said.
“We expect that number to grow,” he said. “We had a storm through the state of Georgia that was bigger than Georgia.”
Most of the claims are likely to come from inland counties stretching into the mountains where Irma’s winds tumble trees on power lines, homes, businesses and vehicles, he said.
“The coastal damage is more acute,” he said because of the storm surge. “Obviously, a lot of people who have flood damage have to go through the process.”
This includes Harry and Taressa Lariscy, whose home was flooded to four feet deep on three acres plus between US 17 and the swamp.
When asked what he had lost, Harry Lariscy said, “Everything but the roof. We lost everything, personal papers, everything.”
He said they stayed up all night on Sunday [Sept. 10] “Dip the water and mop the water” and kept pace with the tide until Monday morning.
“The bad boy came in around 10:30 in the morning,” he said. “Two waves of feet pounded the side of the house. Two freezers and a refrigerator in the garage were all floating.”
Taressa Lariscy said they put their computer on the washing machine so it would be safe. They heard a crack, and it was the sound of the washing machine floating and toppling and dropping the computer into three feet of water.
The Lariscys came to the village of Damage to take action against their second flood insurance claim in less than a year. Hurricane Matthew also flooded her home with six inches of water.
They were given a number to call to get things started or if they had a working computer they could start the process online.
At home, the decks are scattered around the property, the furniture is molded, and the door of every closet and closet was open to let things dry. The freezers and refrigerators were on their sides where they’d settled when the water drained away. High water marks were at least thigh high on her house and every shed and outbuilding.
State Farm’s Justin Tomczak said the company had already received around 10,500 claims as of Friday, the majority of which were tree and limb damage.
“By comparison, Florida is 30,000. Obviously they have it worse,” he said.
Tomczak said the company was in Damage Village to answer any questions, and inquiries and claims had been stable.
As a result, Allstate set up its large damage response vehicle with five adjusters and a damage manager.
There was a big screen TV outside that people could watch while they waited, but sometimes people need more than just making a claim or a simple distraction, said Jose Solsol Jr., a senior claims adjuster.
Solsol pulled a telephone receiver attached to a satellite phone from the wall.
“When there’s no power, you can call anywhere in the world from here,” he said, giving customers the ability to call family members far and wide.
Communications manager Adam Polok said the company also borrowed iPads in Houston so that victims of Hurricane Harvey could contact their families.
“You can check in on Facebook, you can text whatever you need to do,” he said.
When customers come with young children, give them little teddy bears.
“After the storm, this could be the only toy they have,” Solsol said.
The Claims Village in Brunswick will reopen on Tuesday. It will be moved to the Home Depot at 11180 Abercorn Street in Savannah Wednesday and Thursday.
Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405