FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Downed power lines, broken tree limbs, and roads blocked by debris have been reported across Fayetteville in the aftermath of Friday night’s severe weather.

The National Weather Service (NWS) surveyed damage around the Fayetteville area in Lincoln County on Saturday, March 25, and determined that an EF-2 tornado touched down there, with peak winds of 118 mph.

The next day, Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a warning about how unlicensed contractors take advantage of homeowners facing uncertainty after storms like the one in Fayetteville.

Officials urge residents in communities impacted by natural disasters to beware of “storm chasers” and out-of-town contractors searching for a business.

Even though not all storm chasers are scam artists, the BBB said they may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes, or make big promises they can’t fulfill.

“As residents deal with damage to horse stalls and roofing, we want to equip them with information before hiring a contractor. We first suggest visiting BBB.org to find a local business that BBB has already vetted,” said Robyn Householder, president and CEO of the BBB serving Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.

The BBB provided several other recommendations for every homeowner following a storm.

  • Contact your insurance company to ask about your policy coverage; specific filing requirements; and, if possible, a list of recommended contractors. 
  • Resist high-pressure sales. According to the BBB, some storm chasers use tactics like the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot. Instead of being reactive to sales calls or door-to-door pitches, be proactive in selecting a contractor.
  • Be careful when it comes to door-to-door contractors. Since many counties require a solicitation permit if salespeople go door-to-door, you are encouraged to ask for identification, as well as check their vehicles for a business name, phone number, and license plate for your state or province. 
  • Download the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app — which is available for iOS and Android users — so it can serve as your personalized disaster resource. It allows you to send notifications to your loved ones, find emergency shelters in your area, and more.
  • Don’t sign over insurance checks to contractors. Instead, get an invoice from the contractor and pay them directly with a credit card, which provides additional fraud protection over other forms of payment.
    Also, don’t sign any documents that give the contractor any rights to your insurance claims. If you have questions, reach out to your insurance company or agent.

“We are always available to help,” Householder said, encouraging anyone in need of assistance to contact the BBB by emailing info@bbb.org or calling 615-242-4222.

Don’t forget to take the power and reliability of the WKRN Weather Authority with you at all times by downloading the News 2 Storm Tracker app.