Buchanan County flooding victims beware of “storm chasers”, BBB warns

The BBB said “storms chasers’ do poor quality work and take disaster victims’ money

Buchanan County home carried off its foundation (Connor Dietrich, WSLS)

ROANOKE, Va. – As if they haven’t gone through enough already, Buchanan County flooding victims are now susceptible to scammers coming to their area according to the BBB.

On Thursday, the Better Business Bureau serving Western VA released a statement warning Buchanan County flooding victims about people looking to take advantage of those who need help following Tuesday’s storms.

These people are called “storm chasers,” the BBB said, and they’re known for taking disaster victims’ money and doing poor quality work, or simply never returning after payment is acquired.

The BBB said you can follow these steps to lessen the risk of being scammed following a natural disaster:

  • Visit BBB.org for reliable information and lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and business reviews you can trust on local companies.
  • Check to see that your contractor is properly licensed by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation’s Board for Contractors.
  • Verify that the contractors must obtain a permit by contacting your local Township or Municipality.
  • Get everything in writing. Statements and agreements that are clearly written, detailed, and broken down into separate line items are a good sign that the contractor has prepared an accurate estimate.
  • Don’t pay in full and agree to terms on a payment schedule, but never pay in full for the job upfront. Never make final payment or sign a final release until you are satisfied with the work done.

And if you want to lend a helping hand or donate to victims, the BBB said you can follow these steps to do so securely:

  • Research the organization on Give.org for reliable information on the charity and lists of charities that meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity.
  • Be cautious when giving online, and you should always go directly to the charity’s Web site.
  • Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims.
  • Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas because unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to help quickly.  See if the charity’s Web site clearly describes what it can do to address the immediate needs of those affected.
  • In-kind drives for food and clothing may not be the quickest way to help those in need unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid properly. Ask the charity about its transportation and distribution plans.

To find out how you can help the Buchanan County Community, read this article.

About the Author:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.