Family of Four In Desperate Need

We are a new family of four in desperate need of all new contents of our home... How we got here...On January 31, 2019 temperatures in our hometown of Springville, NY dropped to -35 degree fahrenheit wind chill with blizzard warnings and a state of emergency was declared.  At the time my wife, Kaitlyn, was six months pregnant with our second child, she woke me up at 3:30 AM to tell me she heard water gushing on the first floor.   I ran down stairs and sure enough there was water pouring from our dinning room and kitchen ceilings along the walls of the kitchen and into the basement.  I am a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT with Springville Volunteer Fire Department (SFD) and am well aware that water and electricity do not mix.  I sprinted down the basement stairs and immediately shut of the water and electrical supplies to the house.  I obtained a thermal imager from the SFD to see if the circuit breaker that tripped was due to water shorting out the electrical outlets and potential fire in the walls.  Thankfully, I acted quick enough and there was no fire just hot water in my walls.  After the immediate threat was taken care of I looked to see the cause of the water leak.  With the frigid temperatures a copper water line in the dinning room ceiling that feeds our upstairs bathroom had froze and ruptured.  We packed up our immediate needs (clothes etc...) and stayed at my parents house as we no longer had heat, water, or electricity in our home. Once the light of the morning came we went back to the house to survey the damage.  The ceiling had collapsed, ripped drywall down on the ceiling and walls.  We got permission to turn electricity and heat back on after our electrical system was inspected that morning.  We contacted Allstate (our homeowners insurance) and filed the claim.    The claims representative told us to contact a water mitigation group to provide an estimate of cost of cleanup and repairs.   Timeline of Events (New York State vs. Allstate): According to New York State a water mitigation contractor can not work in a home with damaged drywall without a negative asbestos test result.  We notified Allstate of this requirement and were given full permission to move forward.  After 2 weeks of coordinating contractors and tests we were notified that our house contained asbestos.  A NYS certified asbestos contractor came out and called Allstate while at our home.  Allstate was told that they needed to send out an HVAC specialist and plumber to winterize the home so the heat could be shut off to eliminate the asbestos blowing around our home.   However, Allstate ignored this request and we were notified that everything dealing with our home would be placed on hold while Allstate investigated the claim.  This investigation was completed by an Allstate hired contractor.  This contractor was advised by Allstate to get this job done quick, cheap, and he was to submit the NYS variance to perform the asbestos abatement however the homeowner was NOT to obtain a copy of it.   Fast forward to April (3 months later)  my wife and I have been fighting tooth and nail with Allstate regarding the NYS variance and our policy coverage.  We hired a public adjuster, spoke with an attorney, notified our lienholder that their home that is still being paid for is now condemned as NYS will not allow us back in our home until the asbestos is clear from the house.  Only after jumping through these hurdles did we finally get the dwelling coverage to remove the asbestos, and rebuild what needed to be removed according to the NYS variance.  I was so frustrated because Allstate hired the contractor and then they didn't like what his conclusions were so they completely disregarded the variance. To those that aren't familiar with a variance, in simplest terms it is a NYS law telling my insurance company, the contractors, and the homeowner what is required under state law in regards to the asbestos contamination.  It is a law that is has to be followed in all context and is very specific how the chemical that causes an aggressive lung cancer, Mesothelioma has to be properly disposed of.   This variance states that ALL property, ALL contents need to have one of two options done to them. 1. If the contents can be properly cleaned and decontaminated then they are to be, and the homeowner can gain possession of the cleaned contents back.   2. If the contents can NOT be properly cleaned and decontaminated then they MUST be disposed of as Hazardous Waste.   Allstate has taken a firm stand that the $2,000 a year homeowners insurance coverage we have does not cover the contents as our contents are under a named peril.   What they will cover is contents that were specifically damage by water from the leak, however asbestos is not an ensuing loss covered claim, therefore they will not pay for cleaning nor will they pay for replacement.  ***This leaves us with NYS saying all contents MUST be decontaminated/disposed and Allstate saying not our problem we're not covering your contents.*** Our Current Situation:   On April 11, 2019 we welcomed our beautiful baby boy in this world and now due to our current situation we are living in my parents 200 square foot finished basement.  A family of four which includes a 2 1/2 year old toddler and a newborn in a 200 square foot basement!    We finally received the check to move forward with the asbestos abatement however, this also means everything we own is now gone!  We do not have money to pay for all of our contents to be decontaminated (reminder that option is only if it can be) and we do not have money for replacement of everything we have worked so hard for.  The attorney mentioned above has stated that we have a clear case to win due to the negligence of Allstate to shut down the HVAC system (which has been on since the loss occurred).  The HVAC system couldn't be shut down until the house was winterized to prevent further freezing damage.  The attorney route is one we would take if it wasn't for his fee of $350 per hour to represent us. We are good, honest, hardworking people.  I work at SUNY Buffalo Medical School in medical research, and my wife works in Medical Claims.  We both are college graduates, myself of University at Buffalo and my wife of SUNY Delhi.  I volunteer to serve my community as a firefighter/EMT.   We are not the type of people to look for handouts, however, as a Husband and a Father nothing is beneath me to look out for my family. IMAGINE EVERYTHING YOU OWN IN YOUR HOUSE...WE ARE NOW GOING TO BE STARTING WITH NOTHING.   NO CLOTHES NO FURNITURE NO BEDS NO BEDDING NO TOWELS NO ELECTRONICS NO APPLIANCES NO KIDS TOYS NO BOOKS NO WINDOW COVERINGS WE HAVE NOTHING!   We are asking, that if you can help no matter how little we will be forever grateful to you!   Thank you so much for your generosity in Advance! The Stowell's (Greg, Kaitlyn, Emmeline, and Jayden)

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Organizer 


Greg Stowell 
Organizer
Springville, NY
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