At a meeting of the Texas House Committee on Insurance in Rockport on Wednesday representatives from the public, Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and state legislators took to the floor to lay out their differences and come to the table once more. However, the meeting itself felt more like the part of a trial where victims give so-called victim impact statements and from the looks of it, Coastal Texas residents and businesses laid out their claims pretty well that they in fact are the true victims.
Fulton Mayor Jimmy Kendrick said during his remarks at the meeting that residents were being treated like they live in a “third world country.” Kendrick, who is in his last term as mayor of Fulton also noted how in his community there are still blue construction tarps on property from damages caused by Hurricane Harvey some two and a half years ago. He also suggested that suicides had occurred because of the stress put on residents of Coastal Texas because of the way TWIA had been allegedly mishandling and hampering recovery efforts.
Just last week, Mayor Kendrick and the Fulton City Council passed a resolution on behalf of the community asking for a full investigation of TWIA and how the beleaguered association operates and conducts business.
It was also noted in Wednesday’s Committee meeting that Texas Coastal communities are still struggling to recover and that businesses along with residents still have a very long way to go before they are truly at pre-Harvey levels. One fact that was noted is that a hospital which serves the community has still yet to reopen although plans to build a “microhospital” are being discussed.
TWIA came to their own defense during the meeting claiming that they have in fact done their part to help rebuild the local community and reiterated their stance that they are in fact in existence to protect people and their property. According to the association TWIA has paid out some $1.3 billion dollars in claims related to Hurricane Harvey and that they expect to pay $400 million more in claims in the future on Harvey claims. However, that posed questions as to why people are still waiting on claims to be processed some 2 ½ years post disaster? While TWIA was prepared with what seemed to be a canned response to the question, it did not set well with attendees and committee members.
While using part of his to address that matter Chairman Rep. Eddie Lucio III retorted “Give the rate payer what they paid for,” a statement which brought positive reaction from some attendees.
State Representative Todd Hunter also took to the microphone to make sure once again that his stance on the issue was heard. Hunter again, as he has done in the past made references to open records requests which were filed by members of the media and others. He also fired back with a notion that State Representative Mayes Middelton started back in December as to why TWIA is not located on the coast since that is who they supposedly serve?
While it is unclear exactly what the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting will end up actually being, it was an obvious sign from the public and lawmakers that TWIA had better get their act together or face the music.