Ike victims complain about contractor

September 15, 2009 8:35:40 AM PDT
A mayor has tough words for an out-of-state hurricane contractor. One southeast Texas community has turned to 13 Undercover to help.For some folks in Shoreacres, it's one nightmare after another. First, Hurricane Ike destroyed their home a year ago Sunday and now, it's still not livable.

This is why folks move to Shoreacres, but a year ago, this quiet bay was an angry wall of water ten feet high. I was busy battling the wind and water on the Seawall. The images still haunt the bay front.

"I spent about ten minutes in here and I left. I thought I was going to have a heart attack," said resident Scott Lowry.

The American flag was still flying outside, but inside Lowry's house was trashed.

"I was heartbroken. I didn't know whether to cry or what," said Lowry.

Scott and many of his neighbors turned to Florida-based Aruba Construction to rebuild. But now the nightmare of a storm has been replaced by the nightmare of a home still unlivable a full year after the hurricane.

"That toilet has been sitting there four months," said Lowry. "They broke windows out, moving sheetrock around, there's glass outside. They didn't even clean this out before they painted."

Shoreacres Mayor Jayo Washington is not surprised.

"That's the construction company I've heard 99 percent of complaints about," said Mayor Washington.

There are houses in Mayor Washington's town that have been rebuilt from the ground up already. Most folks are living normal lives while Lowry's belongings are still strewn on his back porch.

"This poor guy is sleeping on a couch at his ex in-law's house. How good could that be?" asked Mayor Washington.

In Lowry's garage, new appliances are still in the box. They were bought last Thanksgiving.

"That's why we've reached out to people like you, Wayne, to try to get this thing moving along," said Mayor Washington.

Aruba Construction is based in Florida, but it had to give Shoreacres the required insurance policy before it could work here. We checked it out. That policy was cancelled last January without any word to the city.

"I'm really upset about that. That really drives me nuts," said Mayor Washington.

The city's website chronicles Aruba horror stories. One woman calls the company "unscrupulous" and "immoral." Another customer told us they were "snakes."

When we told Gary of Aruba Construction of the complaints, he replied, "I would have to say that would be wrong."

He's the Aruba point man Lowry has been dealing with, trying to find out why his house still looks the way it does.

"Thanks very much for following me to the Home Depot. Find another story," said Gary.

"I don't know what kind of business you think you're running, but your customer service sucks," Mayor Washington told us about Aruba.

"I haven't heard those allegations from the mayor or anyone else," said Gary.

"Well, I'm telling you," we said.

"I'm hearing it second hand then and as you well know, second hand information is not reliable," said Gary.

"Watch TV Monday night and you'll see me talking to the mayor," we answered.

Mayor Washington reiterated to us how he feels about Aruba, "The people you have on the streets in my city are worthless."

The owner of Aruba Construction told us by phone that a whole series of problems, including cash flow, has delayed hurricane home repairs in Shoreacres. We told him we expect our neighbors in Shoreacres to get what they paid for. He promised to get the houses done. We'll see.

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