EAGLE POINT, Ore — More than a week after a bitter winter weather hit southern Oregon, residents are still dealing with the aftermath. The amount of people filing insurance claims is so great … State Farm Insurance has designated Jackson County a catastrophe area.
State Farm said in the past five years, they have only designated Jackson County as a catastrophe area one other time back in the winter of 2009.
Most of the insurance claims being filed are due to pipe bursts last week. Bob Sousa is one homeowner who found out first hand just how much damage a pipe burst can do.
The floors are wet, and a foul odor fills the air inside of his damaged home. On Thursday, a pipe connected to his water heater burst, flooding his home.
“It was just like a sauna,” Sousa said. “I opened the door and just a big ole barrel of steam comes barreling out the door.”
He and his wife had moved out of the house and were preparing to rent the house to another family beginning this week. At first glance the water damage appeared to be minimal, but a consultation with his insurance agent revealed the house would need to be completely gutted and rebuilt.
“A lot of the house is going to be down to the studs,” said State Farm claim representative, Sean Burke.
The moisture from the pipe burst destroyed the house inside and out, soaking the particle board under the carpet, and ruining the dry wall.
Sousa is not the only homeowner facing significant damage after last week’s storm. So many claims have been filed, state farm is declaring Jackson County a catastrophe zone.
“We monitor those claim numbers, and when they hit a certain level we have the ability to ask for that additional catastrophe help,” said Burke.
State Farm is bringing in additional resources and agents into the hard-hit area.
“They come in and assess and help the local field reps with those additional claim numbers to retrieve some of the stress of the local claim reps,” said Burke.
As for Sousa, he says he is just glad he got moved out of his house before all of this happened.
“I have no loss of furniture… I don’t have to get put up in a motel… so if there is a good side to it that is what it is,” said Sousa.
The total cost of the home damage has yet to be calculated, but the insurance agent did say the pipe burst did tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to the house. The house will have to be completely gutted and rebuilt, and that process could take anywhere from six to ten weeks.