More than four years after a massive storm struck Amarillo with baseball-sized hail, 43 schools in the Amarillo (Texas) district are stuck in insurance-dispute limbo
The Amarillo Globe-News reports that while the district and insurance company remain mired in negotiations over reimbursement for damages from the May 2013 storm, maintenance staff in the district have to contend with leaky roofs and stave off water damage, including a rainy summer that included one of the wettest Augusts in Amarillo history.
The district has received nearly $12 million from its insurer, Travelers, to make repairs, but district officials say they need millions more to replace instead of repair roofs.
A public insurance adjuster hired by the district found that losses at 43 school campuses, the district’s headquarters and a maintenance department building totaled $45 million; the insurer’s estimate was $14.3 million.
Sticking points include a disagreement on the use of elastomeric coating, a rubberized paint, instead of replacing roofs at 25 campuses and the district headquarters, court documents say. The district says the coating would trap moisture already in roofing membranes in violation of the city building code.
The insurer has also asserted that the majority of gravel ballasted roofs did not sustain hail damage; the district contends many of those roofs needed to be replaced.
The Amarillo district sued Travelers two years after the storm in May 2015. The suit was paused in 2016 after Travelers triggered an independent appraisal process. That work is still underway.
The school board last month re-approved roof replacements projects at Mann Middle School and Woodlands and Wills elementary schools, which were started in 2015 but put on hold because of the lawsuit. The board also voted to move ahead with a roof replacement at Whittier Elementary School, which the district says was damaged during the 2013 storm.
The roof replacement costs at the four campuses are estimated at $4.2 million, and Travelers had estimated the losses at those schools at about one-third of that, or $1.4 million.
“Travelers in effect offered to pay to replace around 34 percent of the roofing systems on these campuses, without any payments for resulting interior damage,” says Kelly Utsinger, an attorney for the school district. “Replacing 34 percent of a roofing system has no benefit when the roofing system requires total replacement.”