Report: Grapefruit-size hail struck Midland/Odessa area

Photo courtesy of Laura Gilliam.

MIDLAND/ODESSA -- Grapefruit-size hail left many West Texans with damaged cars and roofs Wednesday.

The following comes from the Insurance Council of Texas:

Wind gusts of up to 72 miles per hour and hail as large as grapefruit struck the Midland/Odessa area on Wednesday. Thousands of West Texans were waking up to damaged roofs and automobiles with shattered windshields.

Insurance company catastrophe teams are arriving in both cities to handle the high volume of claims. Local insurance agencies are also trying to keep up with the number of reported claims.

“It’s been nuts,” said Andrea Hidalgo with the Tara Simmons Insurance Agency in Odessa. “We’ve been hit with large hail the last two days and last night was especially hard and we are supposed to get hit again tonight.”

Alex Lister, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Midland, said grapefruit size hail was reported one mile south of Midland while baseball size hail was reported in Odessa. “We’ve had hail as large as 4 and a quarter inches and wind gusts near 70 miles per hour reported in both Midland and Odessa and in adjoining counties,” said Lister.

Auto body shops in the area are expected to begin filling up quickly with damaged cars. Amanda Bell with the Davis Body Shop in Odessa said everybody is swamped from last night’s storm, especially the glass companies.

Both homeowners and vehicle owners are urged to assess the damage to their property and contact their insurance companies as soon as possible. Companies have declared the storm a catastrophe and are sending in additional adjusters to handle the claims.

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has sent a team of fraud investigators to the area to deter any criminal element drawn to the scene after this week’s storms.

“Unfortunately, a big storm can also draw some bad contractors and scam artists to the area,” said TDI Fraud Chief Christopher Davis. “Our investigators will be visiting with local officials and talking to residents to help them recognize potential scams."

The Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) urges homeowners to avoid storm-chasing roofers who will be coming into the area searching for work. “Homeowners in Midland and Odessa should work with building contractors who have offices in the area,” said Mark Hanna, an ICT spokesperson. “Seek local roofers and building contractors who have built a good reputation in the community. They are the ones who will be around long after the storm has passed.”

ICT also offers these additional tips.

-Make temporary repairs, if you can prevent additional damage to your home.

-Assess and note the damage to your home. Take photos or video of your home to record the damage and show your insurance adjuster.

-Avoid outside solicitors who are only there to prey off your misfortune.

-Contact your insurance company/agent. The sooner you can contact your insurer, the sooner an insurance adjuster can arrive to begin assessing damage and start the recovery process.

-Make note of all communication, dates, phone calls, visits, receipts, repairs and paper work with your insurer and building contractor.

-If you disagree with the amount of damage found by your insurance adjuster, you have options. Ask to speak with the adjuster’s supervisor for a second opinion. Work with a reputable building contractor who can compare the cost of labor, materials and overall repair.

-Get more than one estimate when hiring a building contractor. Get everything in writing including costs, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations. Never pay a contractor in full or sign a certificate of completion until the work is finished. Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.