Six N.C. Homeowners Dispute Denial of Hurricane Ivan Damage Claims

November 19, 2004

Six residents in Peeks Creek, N.C. where four people died in a Hurricane Ivan-triggered landslide have hired lawyers to represent them after being denied insurance claims.

Fifteen houses were damaged or destroyed in Peeks Creek the night of Sept. 16, when trees, boulders, water and earth crashed through the cove.

Homeowner policies typically cover events such as fire, wind, hail, lightning and fallen trees but will not cover damage involving movement of earth.

A team of scientists investigating the event is calling it a debris flow or landslide. Residents maintain a tornado also hit the area. The scientists haven’t entirely discounted a small tornado, which is possible but rare in the mountains.

“Exactly what triggered (the debris flow) we don’t know,” said Rick Wooten, a geologist with the North Carolina Geological Survey.

Claims have commonly been denied on the basis of flooding, as well as one that was submitted with cause of damage as tornado.

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