Homeowners still waiting for repairs two months after EF-1 tornado hits Rockford

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 6:26 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - It’s a race against time for a Rockford family whose historic home was heavily damaged by a tornado earlier this year.

Tara Dickson was forced to evacuate her Spring Creek Road property on March 31, the day an EF-1 twister ripped through parts of the city. For the next 2 1/2 months, she and her husband, along with their toddler, stayed with Tara’s mother. They returned May 17, after a structural engineer gave them the green light to move back in.

And while Dickson is glad to be back, she is still waiting for her insurance company to pay for the repairs.

“We are up against time because we only have like 60 to 90 days before the weather changes,” she said.

Dickson says because her home, the first one built on Spring Creek Road more than century ago, is historic, and the damage was so severe, the claims process is taking extra long.

“For us, it’s very important that we keep the integrity of the home,” she said. “We’re not looking just to cut corners. We want the home to be in the same condition it was when we purchased it or when they built the home 120 years ago.”

That’s why Dickson is actively involved in the process. She says if she leaves anything to chance, delays could last until winter, maybe longer.

“I think it could take a whole lot longer if I wasn’t proactive in that,” she said. “Because I am texting my adjuster. I am asking for callbacks.”

Experts say cases like Dickson’s are all too common these days. Adjusters are backlogged and contractors aren’t equipped to speed up jobs like they were in the past.

“There’s a supply chain issue,” said State Farm Insurance agent Melissa Thomas. “It takes longer to get things and the cost of everything is so much more than it used to be.”

Dickson knows that all too well, which is why she’s taking no chances in choosing who does her work. She’s also learned a lot about how to deal with repair companies after a catastrophic weather event.

“Do your research,” she said. “Don’t go with the first contractor that gives you a number. Get three or four quotes.”

The March 31 tornado destroyed five pillars that support the front section of Dickson’s house. It also ripped off parts of the roof, blew out five large windows and actually lifted the house from its foundation.

Several homeowners near Sinnissippi Golf Course are also still waiting for tornado-related repairs.