Woman speaks out after contractor fails to complete cleanup work after Hurricane Irma

(WSVN) - Unlike the terrible destruction in the Bahamas, South Florida did not get the brunt of Hurricane Dorian, but for many South Floridians, it brought back bad memories of what happened after Irma, including feeling like they got taken. The Nightteam’s Patrick Fraser has tonight’s 7 Investigates.

Watching Dorian sit off the coast of Florida spinning and devastating the Bahamas scared the heck out of many South Floridians.

Darelynn Prejean: “It was pretty massive.”

Dorian also reminded Darelynn of the headaches Irma created long after the storm passed by.

Darelynn Prejean, hired company for cleanup: “Just the chaos of the hurricane, I think it was just so rushed, and it was so hard to find people to do work.”

Darelynn found a self-described contractor who offered to do the cleanup work for $4,000. She gave him $2,000 down.

Darelynn Prejean: “And we had looked at his Facebook page that said he was licensed and insured.”

Darelynn remembers him as young and eager, but after he got his deposit, all Darelynn got from him was attitude.

Darelynn Prejean:: “‘I don’t like your tone with me.’ He kind of just took the tone that he wasn’t going to finish the work, and he wasn’t coming back.”

Darelynn then went on the lawn service’s Facebook page, posted what had happened to her and found out that John Mathews from Leo’s Lawn Service had a reputation.

Darelynn Prejean: “So now, I’ve been contacted by three people that have been in the same situation: that he’s taken a deposit, shows up, does a little bit of the work and then kind of disappears.”

On Facebook, Mathews posted that he did do the work and showed pictures to prove it.

When we talked to him on the phone, he said he only did half the work because he didn’t think Darelynn would pay him for the rest of the work.

He also told us he was licensed when he did the work for Darelynn and others, but Broward County said, “No, he did not have a license then and does not have a license now.”

Delroy Aiken, contractor enforcement: “He has been cited twice through our department. Once for tree treatment services without a license and the second time was for advertising for irrigation without a license, both of those trades require a license.”

Aiken says Mathews was fined $500 for each citation and did not pay them.

Delroy Aiken: “He’s still unlicensed.”

To avoid getting taken, Aiken says as you prepare for an approaching hurricane, also prepare for the cleanup. Find a contractor and ask for their license and proof of insurance.

Delroy Aiken: “They start a project and abandon it and didn’t finish it or cause damages, and now you can submit a claim against their insurance.”

Fortunately Dorian spared South Florida and didn’t leave behind homeowners to clean up the mess from the storm and from the people paid to clean up the mess.

Darelynn Prejean: “It made me very angry, and I felt that I had an obligation to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anybody else.”

Not every storm will miss South Florida, so as you take down the shutters from Dorian, be prepared so you don’t shudder as you try to clean up if the next storm hits us.

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