Back at the flooded house, Christina and Craig were wading through four inches of water, trying to come to grips with what had happened. A pipe from the pressurized fire sprinkler system had frozen and burst, spraying water everywhere. The ceiling was destroyed, furniture and carpets soaked and there was standing water in every single room on the ground floor.
Despite having a generator, there was little they could have done to prevent this outcome. As temperatures across the state dropped below freezing, the demand for electricity spiked with Texans turning up the heat to stay warm. Power plants in Texas run independently from the major national grids, making it difficult to import electricity from other states. To prevent a complete collapse of the grid, power to customers was shut off—making the situation drastically worse for homeowners in a state where houses are not built to withstand extreme cold. Open pipes in the attic and ceilings of homes built with little insulation were left at risk. Insurance companies across the country, including PURE, have filed lawsuits against the organization that powers the Texas electrical grid for their actions that led to more than $5 billion in insurance claims.
For Christina and Craig, the damage caused throughout their home was a painful sight. This was their dream home. They had searched for more than a year before they found it. Its playroom was “just perfect” for their two boys, “with more than enough room for them to run around in.” It had tall ceilings (described as “a must” by Craig, who is 6’4”, and Christina, who is 5’10”). The only thing missing was a pool, which they promptly installed. “The view from the living room out to the pool at night with the palm trees lit up—that’s what it’s all about right there,” says Craig. It was his favorite room in the house.
“Within 10 minutes of us getting home, our claims adjuster, Jimmy Wolterman, arrived. He said he just got into town but wanted to come by to introduce himself, see how we were doing, what we needed and how he could help.’”
First up was helping the Dillards find a place to stay that night, which was no easy task. The storm had damaged so many homes in Houston that hotels were completely booked, but Jimmy found a room.
Next was clearing out the house, but salvage companies were also completely booked. “They weren’t even answering the phone,” says Craig. But when Christina called a connection at a cleaning company and mentioned PURE, they said they’d be right over.
Then, Jimmy went to work finding a suitable rental home. Rentals were extremely scarce and the competition intense, but he came through, and the Dillards moved right in.
Craig recalled conversations with Jimmy where he said things like, “The house has to get fixed, but let's get the right people to do it, however long that takes.” “If you guys need clothes or anything in the meantime, just let us know.” And, “We are here to help.”
“It was the little things like that, especially early on, that helped put us at ease,” says Craig.
Christina says Jimmy’s guidance was invaluable as he helped them grasp the magnitude of the loss and how long the process would take. “They had to rip the floor up and remove all of our furniture. Water had gotten into the cabinetry, so all of that had to be ripped out too,” says Christina. “It was extremely comforting, for lack of a better word, during this very stressful process to not have to fight with the insurance company, but to actually have their support. It was just phenomenal.”