Decatur police warn of possible storm-related scams

DECATUR, Ala.-- Good news for homeowners in the dark since Tuesday's storm. On Friday evening,  Decatur Utilities has restored service to all but three customers who are able to take power right now.

About 50 customers are being told they have damage that has to be repaired and inspected before their electric service can be reconnected.

And while cleanup continues, police in Decatur are warning people to be wary of possible scams.

Brenda Jones, like many families in northwest Decatur, was surprised by Tuesday night's storm. "A lot of houses destroyed, some fixable, some are not."

Fortunately, Jones says her house is worse for wear, but fixable. First, she needs power. "I'm waiting on the electrician, they're all out," Jones said. At a time when contractors and handymen are at a premium.

Decatur police are warning people to be wary of anyone promising to patch up their homes. "It's the last thing you're thinking about," Emme Long from the Decatur Police Department said.

"They need to have a contract before they ever begin work. And that comes only from the city of Decatur's building department." Long says a good place to start is to ask questions. Look at their paperwork, their license, and references.

And be suspicious of any out of the blue phone calls. "If someone calls you asking you to donate to law enforcement, donate to first responders in the storm relief efforts, that's probably a scam."

Finally, if you do need repair work, never pay more than 10 percent up front.

You can also check the status of a building permit for your home and whether or not the contractor is licensed by calling the Decatur building department at (256)341-4574 or (256)341-4570.