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Help Rebuild Baby's Home; Lost To Fire
$5 raised
0% of $100k goal
1 contributor
0 days left
Ended Apr 19, 2014
Imagine being two days from the due date of your child's birth & arriving home to a fire that has destroyed your home & all of your belongings..

Imagine being two days from the due date of your first child. The walls are adorned with a chosen theme & colour. The room is set with furniture & beautiful fabrics to match. The closet, drawers & change table are full of the many gifts from your baby shower & the endless shopping trips. You are stocked & prepared, ready to welcome the most life changing form of happiness there is.

Then imagine, you return from a shopping excursion, open the door to your home, only to have thick black smoke billow out. You cannot see your own hand in front of your face. Imagine your pets are inside that house? What do you do?

This is the event that Dave & Sherrill Rees of Port Perry, Ontario were faced with in May 2010. As Dave rushed in to search for their two cats, Sherrill followed behind & began opening windows. Neighbours raced to the scene & dragged Sherrill out of the house as she was nine months pregnant, ready to give birth. Dave eventually found the cats. They looked like ducks caught in an oil spill, covered in soot & smoke but they were alive! Fire trucks & paramedics arrived on scene. Dave & Sherrill had inhaled & ingested a lot of soot & smoke. Their skin & clothes were black. Sherrill was put on oxygen & taken to the hospital to monitor the baby.

An electrical fire with the stove was the cause. The heat was so intense that it melted the melamine cabinets & counter tops. The soot was now chemically toxic. The air conditioner in the window beside the stove fed the soot throughout the entire house. When the smoke settled all of Dave & Sherrill's belongings were destroyed. Even tightly closed storage containers were full of soot. It penetrated right through the walls into the woodwork. Some structural damage also occurred. This was definitely not a habitable place to return. Dave & Sherrill went to stay with family, about forty minutes from their home.

Their ordeal has become a nightmare by bad faith tactics they endured at the hands of their insurance company. Think your covered by your insurance company in the case of devastation? Think again! When their insurance company adjuster met them at their house, they were assured "Don't worry, we'll take care of you." That could not have been the furthest thing from the truth!

The insurance company sent in their "special clean up crew". They were nothing more than a glorified carpet cleaning company. They began to pack up all of Dave & Sherrill's belongings into boxes & write an inventory list. They were told to keep almost nothing, especially baby items & clothing. They were told that only hard objects such as wood would respond to cleaning. However, Sherrill requested that they try to clean some things such as her keepsakes & collectables. They literally wiped the walls for approximately one full week. When asked by Sherrill why they were spending so much time wiping walls that would obviously need to be torn out, the manager's reply was "This is how we assess damage. The next step is to remove small test patches to see how much soot & smoke got behind the walls."

Sherrill then went into labour. It included some bad complications & resulted in an emergency c-section. She gave birth though to a healthy baby boy who they named Tyson. While recovering in hospital, the clean up company called Sherrill in her hospital room! They asked if they could go ahead with removing the small test patches. Of course, thinking this proper protocol, Sherrill gave the go ahead.

The next time Dave & Sherrill met the manager of the clean up company at their home, they arrived to find that most of the house had been gutted. However, they did leave a lot to finish. What happened to those small test patches that they were to only remove? It was obvious the entire house needed to come down but the manager said he'd have to discuss it with the insurance adjuster first.

In the meantime, Dave & Sherrill received their inventory list from the insurance company. There were thousands of items on this list, right down to pens & pencils. They were told to put replacement values beside each item. When going through the list, they noticed many items were missing, even their three piece sofa sofa set! Sherrill contacted the insurance company & was informed by the insurance company "It is your responsibility to make sure all of your items are accounted for or you won't be paid."

Sherrill could not possibly re-inventory everything on her own with a new baby & recovering from surgery. Dave could not devote that amount of time as he was a long haul truck driver. The Rees family were left to hire a private adjustment firm, NFA (National Fire Adjusters). It took approximately nine visits to the cleaning company's warehouse to re-inventory all of the contents. Approximately one out of every three or four boxes had the missing items inside, but were never accounted for!

A new & correct inventory list was submitted to the insurance company. What happened next left Dave & Sherrill dumb founded...The insurance company retorted with an allegation of fraud! They said that the Rees' were claiming for things that they never owned! How outrageous! All of their contents were under lock & key at the clean up company's warehouse! It was in the hands of the insurance company at any time for their review! This was a huge insult to the Rees' & NFA who are a very large North American adjustment firm. NFA assured Dave & Sherrill that this was just a bad faith tactic used by many insurance companies. If they can find fraud in any part of the claim, then they don't have to pay any of the claim what so ever.

Dave & Sherrill now had to hire a lawyer as the insurance company wouldn't speak with them directly any longer. Appraisal dates were booked where both sides go before an umpire (basically a judge in training) & dispute their pricing. These cost thousands of dollars of which the Rees' had to pay half. A decision had been made in the structural part of their claim but the insurance company still refused to pay due to the content issue of the claim.

Dave & Sherrill even attended on one occassion where the insurance company's lawyer wasted much of the time disputing such things as the value of half a bottle of ketchup on the free market. One of the cleaning company's employees bold face lied & said that much of the Rees' contents were not cleaned & salvaged because Dave & Sherrill told them not to! It was a very disgraceful, ugly & unbelievable situation. Especially when many of their keepsakes such as Royal Doulton, figurines, vases, etc. could have been saved with soap & water. The clean up company ruined these items using harsh chemicals that removed the paints! Some furniture such as their wooden bedroom suite was cleaned but scratched, chipped & dented while in the clean up company's possession! Another appraisal was booked for a later date. Nothing was really accomplished. A lot of arguing occurred without any real results.

The lawyers assured the Rees' that they were going to make the insurance company pay & filed a "Bad Faith" lawsuit against their insurance company for not paying out the structural claim. They advised that the process could take another two to three years in litigation. This company was a repeat offender for bad faith & had already been sued for one of the biggest cases in history regarding such. Very quickly, the insurance company responded & wanted to settle. Their settlement offer was very low though. Their lawyer advised them to take the settlement & continue with fundraising as people in the community had formed a facebook group & hosted some small events. Their lawyer now stated that it could be another ten years in court. So, Dave & Sherrill took the settlement. They then lost nearly half of that settlement to various legal fees (lawyer fees, adjuster fees, appraisal fees, etc.)!

The Rees' had lived at their home ten years prior to the fire. Since the fire to present, Dave, Sherrill & Tyson have been living with family, approximately forty minutes from their home in another town. They have been paying their mortgage, property tax & insurance for a place they can't live at! The insurance company even increased their payments, the year after the fire on a claim that wasn't even paid out & on a house & contents that no longer exists!

While not all insurance companies act in this manner, many do. They offer nothing but conflict & delay. Why? Because sadly many people will walk away from the hassle & insurance companies know this.

During the summer months Dave, Sherrill & Tyson stay in their backyard in a borrowed trailer with no electricity or running water. They live on a country lot, so are at least able to have campfires. Tyson is now 3.5 years old & has developed so many friendships in his neighbourhood. There are numerous children his age where his home is. Tyson cries every time they must leave their home as there are no kids his age to play with where they stay with family. It is a sad & uncomprehendable situation for a toddler. He is a very smart little boy who understands they are going to build a new house, but doesn't understand why it hasn't been done yet. This is supposed to be the happiest time on earth for a new family such as the Rees'. Instead it has been filled with sorrow, intimidation, complications & plain unfairness.

Many people in the community have donated their services to rebuild the Rees Family home. However, funds need to be raised for materials. Please help us, help them! Let's show the Rees Family that community matters & the world cares! Again I ask...Imagine if this were you.

You can also follow the Rees family's progress on their facebook page

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