VALRICO, Fla. (WFLA) — Driving along the rows of houses in Valrico, there’s a common sight: neighbors cleaning up. As afternoon turned into night, that clean-up turned into piles of sticks, twigs, and leaves at curbside for pickup. Except for one house.
“When the tree hit, it sounded like a bomb went off,” said Luke Ferrata.
The Ferrata family was waiting out the storm in their home they’ve rented for five years. They had cooked dinner right before their power went out around 6:30 p.m. After turning on the generator to watch some TV, the family gathered on the couch together.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Devon Ferrata. “Because we knew it was going to happen and then, it actually happening.”
They’ve been worried about the old oak in their front yard for as long as they’ve lived at the property. So much so that the couple moved a mattress into the front room, assuming the tree may fall into the main bedroom.
It fell right into the living room, where they were all seated.
“Trying to protect my family, trying to get out of there, trying to figure out where we’re going to go, what we’re going to do,” said Devon. “I mean, in a situation like that, a thousand things kind of race through your mind.”
Thankfully, Luke always likes to have more than enough insurance.
“I immediately called my insurance company,” Luke said. “I filed a claim for the boat and the house to let them know that, ‘Hey, it is damaged.’ I want to get the process started.”
It’s a good thing he did — claims might take a while right now.
“Because of how many claims are going to be happening all at the same time, and because of the supply chain challenges in the United States right now, I would expect the timeline to rebuild to be longer than most people would hope,” said Trevor Burgess.
The CEO of Neptune Flood Insurance said new Floridians might think they’re covered for certain accidents, like floods, when they aren’t.
“One of the largest misunderstandings about insurance is that people think that their homeowners’ policy or their renters’ policy is going to cover the risk of flooding,” Burgess explained. “It doesn’t.”
Burgess also warned against scam artists taking advantage of you.
“You should really watch out for people who are approaching you to help you file a claim,” Burgess said. “It’s your job, as part of your insurance contract, to contact your insurance company directly or your licensed insurance agent who sold you that policy.”
While the Ferratas are covered — Luke has boat insurance too for the parts of the tree that smashed his speeder — they do have to pay out of pocket for any expenses and get that reimbursed.
“I don’t know how many people just have money lying around like that,” Devon said.