Flood victims say they were victimized again by cleanup scam

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One family claims they lost even more to workers doing cleanup. They now have a message for anyone else looking to pay for these services.

A Rosenberg family says they were ripped off by workers doing cleanup following the recent floods.

Their property, like so many close to the Brazos River, took on several feet of water during the recent historic crest.

"All you could do was cry. Everything was washed away," said victim Janie Hernandez.

She and her family were evacuated from their mobile homes, which sit close to the river near Cumings Road and FM 723. They were only allowed to return a week later. The damage was done.

"Just seeing your life washed away, everything was lost," Hernandez said.

Her brother was approached by someone off the street who offered to clean up one of those homes for $2,500 cash, paid up front. They did gut most of it, Hernandez says, but disappeared before finishing.

"It makes you cry. And it just makes you mad. How can they do this to people when they just lost everything?" she said.

Like many, they didn't know there are non-profit disaster relief organizations that will come into your home and do the exact same work -- for free.

"A lot of people don't realize that. At the beginning of the disaster ... it's very crucial for us to get into the area and start getting our word out," said Brandon Baird with All Hands Volunteers.

The organization responds to natural disasters around the world. They've so far completed eight homes in Rosenberg. There's another 79 on the list. They need more help: more volunteers and also more donations. Volunteering requires no experience. Baird says they have enough funding to keep crews working in Fort Bend County only through August 7. If you would like to help, physically or even financially, you can go to their website: www.hands.org. You can also call them at 978-799-9481.

Experts say you can avoid scams following natural disasters by thoroughly researching their backgrounds and never paying for services before they are rendered. For more on how to protect yourself, you can go to the Better Business Bureau website.

For more on flood recovery you can also log on to www.fbcoem.org.

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