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Tomas Gonzalez/DRC

Storm brings damaging hail to Denton County

UPDATE 12:05 p.m. 

Consumers should watch out for another kind of storm-chaser in the next few days—contractor and roofing scammers.

Don’t let anyone on your roof until you’ve called your insurance company and your adjuster has come to assess the damage.

The state of Texas doesn’t require roofers to hold a license, so it can be difficult to evaluate a business you haven’t worked with before. Reputable contractors are usually members of the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit consumer protection group. Look for the business name and grade on the local chapter's website.

Choose a local company that has been working in the area for at least a year or two in case problems with the repair emerge later and need prompt attention.

In addition, the Denton Police Department posted a reminder of common types of scams some roofing companies employ:

The “disappearing” down payment —In this scam, the contractor will require a “down payment” to obtain the materials needed to start the repairs. Once the contractor gets the payment, the contractor disappears with the money and no work is completed.
Door-to-door salespeople —These individuals will sometimes fabricate damage to the roof that may not be there in the first place. These people will also pressure the homeowner into signing a contact to repair the roof prior to the insurance adjuster inspecting the roof.
Storm chasers —These people follow storms and are usually in the devastated areas within hours of the storms passing. These people know how insurance companies work and typically figure out how to put on a “cheap” new roof that is not up to the quality of the original, and they don’t always address other problems the roof may have. These people also leave after the job is finished and often can’t be found for any repairs that may arise in the future.
High-pressure sales —People who use high-pressure sales tactics to have you sign a contract on the spot will often make dishonest and misleading claims. If the salesperson demands an immediate signature on a contract, then this is a red flag there may be problems in the future.
The “low bid” —Everyone likes a deal, but sometimes the “low bid” actually ends up costing more money in the long run. In this scam, the contractor will quote a bid that is much lower than the competition to gain the homeowner’s business. Once the job begins, the contractor will find “unforeseen” problems and the costs will increase. Most reputable contractors will include a section in their contracts dealing with unexpected costs, particularly the roof decking that can’t be inspected prior to the removal of the shingles. — Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe

Severe thunderstorms rolled through Denton County on Sunday evening, bringing with it a tornado warning and reports of baseball-sized hail in Argyle and Bartonville, just south of Denton. Residents took refuge from the storm as hail pounded roofs and broke car windows.

A tornado warning was issued for Denton County with sirens in the city of Denton sounding off just before 7:30 p.m.

Argyle resident Ann Athey wrote on Facebook that the storm moved quickly and the damage may not be as bad as initially feared. At first, Athey thought the storm had broken windows in her home.

Bartonville resident Pattie Carter said that her husband, Joel Carter, called her to the back of the house after hearing what sounded like a tornado roar by.

"Got into the pantry with the animals and it was LOUD as it passed over," Carter wrote on Facebook.

While there were reports of a tornado touchdown in Justin by the Justin Fire Department, it was not officially confirmed, according to a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. The weather service said it had received reports of hail the size of a softball in some parts of Denton County.

The scale of damage from storms, as well as confirmation of a touchdown from a tornado, is not expected until Monday evening, the weather service said.

No injuries were reported when a house caught fire from a lightning strike in Justin at 5 Ski Haven Drive, according to Denton County Emergency Services Director Jody Gonzalez. The roof was completely burned off, he said.

Gonzalez could not confirm whether any tornadoes touched down in Denton County on Sunday. Authorities were mostly dealing with major hail damage across the county. The heaviest hail damage was concentrated in Justin, Argyle, south Denton and Lantana, he said. Busted car windows and damaged skylights were reported.

Denton Fire Department spokesman Kenneth Hedges said Sunday night that the department had not received reports of major storm damage in the city. He said the department will have a better damage assessment today.

Some power outages were reported Sunday night in the Denton area, with five outages reported north of Loop 288, affecting around 44 homes, with another two northeast of Loop 288 affecting around five homes, according to the CoServ outages map. Denton Municipal Electric showed no outages on its map as of 11 p.m. Sunday.

Staff writers Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe and Julian Gill contributed to this report.

HARRISON LONG can be reached at 940-566-6897.