Fulton took a hard hit from Hurricane Harvey and while some are saying that the future looks positive, the struggle to survive here and now is real. People like Fulton Mayor Jimmy Kendrick know that all too well. Mayor Kendrick loves his community and the people that he has served for the past 9 years and even today his heart hurts for those who lost it all and still have so far to go. His compassion is real and much of it is derived from his own personal experience.
The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) has not been helping make things any easier for this small Coastal community. In fact, the insurance industry backed group has been working harder than ever to make that their industry stakeholders are fully protected and residents in places like Fulton are left holding the bag with ridiculous restrictions, burdensome reasoning and tragically lowballed offers for repairs–many of which have yet to be completed due in part to the group’s childish gamesmanship.
Mayor Jimmy Kendrick has been outspoken against TWIA for awhile now and it seems like the more that he speaks in defense of those that he serves, the harder that TWIA pushes back.
“Everytime we testify the harassment gets worse,” says Mayor Kendrick. “I have to support my residents.”
What Kendrick means by harassment is that TWIA comes after him personally. They have constantly hounded him about repairs to his own home and they even went as far as canceling his Windstorm policy after he began questioning the association.
Mayor Kendrick says that while at times Jennifer Armstrong, who serves as TWIA’s Vice President of Communications and Legislative Affairs has been an adult in the room at times when it comes to the association. But still, her insurance bosses push back and attempt to impose their will regardless of rhyme or reason.
When TWIA meets on December 10 in Corpus Christi, the Board of Directors will be asked to consider a 5 percent rate hike that many, including Mayor Kendrick believe would do more harm than good to those who could really benefit from any economic break that they could catch. In fact, research and expert opinion has suggested that an increase of any kind would be damaging to those who are trying to get back on their feet.
The very first time you speak with Kendrick you sense two things: He cares about his community and he loves his family. For him, this fight truly is personal.
“TWIA has got to understand that their values are not Texas values,” says Kendrick. “They keep throwing money at this problem and that is not the answer. There have been times when Americans and Texas have stood up against things like this and it is time that we do it again.”
All Kendrick wants is a little fairness and while the powerful insurance lobby will contend that coastal residents are being unfair to them, it is the ratepayers that have the most at stake. In fact, while many inside TWIA talk numbers, they tend to quietly report just how much they make off the deal.
For instance, while Board Member Mike Gerick’s employer, Texas Farm Bureau collected over $4.5 million dollars from TWIA in 2018, businesses here on the coast continued to struggle. In fact, Mayor Kendrick points to how far the area still has to go.
“We are still short on people, housing and resources,” says Kendrick. “We are open for business but we still have a long way to go.”
LULAC’s Susie Saldana has pointed numerous times that rate increases are discriminatory against the entire region and its residents. But as the cost of living increases in coastal communities, rate increases would compound the problems.
“The American dream has almost gone away in our 14 counties,” Mayor Kendrick said with all the hurt and disgust that you could imagine from a rural coastal community. “They [TWIA] do not know what that flag stands for and their socialist ideals are not what Texas is all about.”
While TWIA comes to town with the malintent to further damage coastal communities and residents, you can bet that Mayor Kendrick will be ready to stand up for not only himself but those in his community that he truly loves.
“TWIA doesn’t know what it is like to sit there with my wife and try to figure out where we are going to find extra money to fix our house. It takes a toll on families,” Mayor Kendrick said. And while to TWIA, profits might mean more than even the bonds of family, it is families that Kendrick is defending. “These residents ARE my family,” he says–and no doubt they most certainly are.