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Local Permit Offices Helping Dallas Hailstorm Victims

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s estimated that tens of thousands of Dallas homes and some 60,000 vehicles in the area were damaged during the June 13 hailstorm. Now some of the hardest hit residents are getting help with the paperwork needed to start home repairs.

Officials with the City of Dallas have gone into affected neighborhoods and set up remote Building Permit offices.

On Tuesday a location was set up at the Lakewood Branch of the Dallas Public Library.

The convenient locations will help because homeowners with repair bills of more than $500 are required to get a building permit to legally begin repairs, and that can sometimes take weeks. Now, because of the hail emergency, the city’s cutting some red tape.

Today hopeful residents waited outside the library for the Noon opening.

Resident Blanca Aranda’s home and truck were damaged in the storm; the roof was the worst.

“They have come by, roofers,” Aranda told CBS 11 News, “and they have said it would be like $4,000 to $5,000. Kind of expensive.”

Ms. Aranda didn’t know what kind of help could be offered. Neither did Stu Serkus, who has renovated a 1924 home in the Junius Heights historic district.

“We took a beating,” he said. “I mean, to start with the landscaping we have more than 40 construction bags worth of leaves and debris. The east side of the house lost almost all the windows.”

The city can’t offer money or direct financial help at the Lakewood location. But what it can do is offer one-stop shopping for a building permit; and in some specific cases with historic homes, like Serkus’, the city may be able to offer a limited property tax break also.

“If they’re in one of those near, close-in, inner-city, historic districts we may be able to help them with an abatement of City of Dallas taxes for a period of up to 10 years,” explained Leif Sandberg, manager of the city’s Sustainable and Development Construction office.

After talking with workers at the permit office there was little that could be done for Aranda, but Serkus was pleased he could expedite his building permit and said he was grateful the city had come to him.

“Today’s experience was very helpful,” he said.  “I thought they did a really good job. Glad they had the foresight to set it up in the neighborhood that was really hit hard.”

For people like Blanca Aranda, who may still need direct financial aid, there is a possibility of help through the city housing department, but that assistance is determined on a case-by-case basis.

According to the Southwestern Insurance Information Service, estimates now predict damage from last Wednesday’s hailstorm will top $1.5 billion.

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