Let the claims begin | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Let the claims begin

Charles Sizemore

Charles Sizemore / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Larry Lambdin sifts through rubble searching for his grandmother's antique school bell in the remains of his house at 1366 Mount Olympia Circle.

Larry and Paula Lambdin and their daughter, Kate, met with their State Farm claim representative, Jeremy Barkhurst, Saturday afternoon at the remains of their house at 1366 Mount Olympia Circle in South Lake Tahoe. They suffered what is referred to as a “total loss” — nothing is left.

The Angora fire that destroyed the Lambdins’ house started one week ago today. Already, the family has had two meetings with insurance representatives and received emergency funds for a place to stay, and essentials such as food and clothing.

Saturday’s meeting is one of many in the process of rebuilding, which may not be finished for more than a year.

Despite having lost their home, the Lambdins seemed in good spirits. Kate, while standing in what was once their driveway, held something up from the rubble and asked her mother what to do with it.

“Put it in the garage,” Paula laughed.

The Lambdins found out about their house Monday morning at Lake Tahoe Community College, after which they contacted State Farm. Then, on Tuesday, they met with the State Farm Catastrophe Resource Team back at LTCC. This meeting was intended for the Lambdins to locate their home for State Farm, tell their story, and get some emergency funds.

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“Initially, it’s just making sure they’re safe, and have somewhere to go, and have money, and know that we’re going to be there for them,” said Barkhurst.

The Saturday afternoon meeting was the second meeting with the Lambdins, the on-site meeting. They met at the site and went over their policy to understand how State Farm looks at the property, the process of getting contractors involved, listing the contents of the house, the details of their claim, etc. Barkhurst made diagrams of the house and landscaping, and took photographs of the remains.

Then Barkhurst went over a checklist with the Lambdins, covering what type of amenities their house had — what type of roofing, doors, windows, shutters, etc. Larry and Paula stood in front of the remains of their house, reconstructing it for Barkhurst.

At one point, while discussing a particular household item, Paula had to correct her husband, “You don’t clean, Larry, you wouldn’t know.”

The diagrams, photos and checklist allow State Farm to get a rough estimate of value in order to get money to the family.

Finally, at this particular meeting, the family was given a binder with information to help guide them through the rebuilding process. The binder covers the immediate needs, frequently asked questions, and helpful tips for the rebuilding process.

Next, the family and State Farm will work with a contractor in coming to an exact figure in terms of what it will cost to put the house back. This more in-depth estimate will be compared to the one made today, and any necessary adjustments will be made. For instance, if the final estimate is higher, then the family will receive the difference from State Farm.

In the meantime, the Lambdins will continue to inventory their home so that State Farm can properly compensate them for their personal property loss and additional living expenses.

Finally, rebuilding begins. South Lake Tahoe rules are tricky: You can’t break ground after October, and the clean-up after the Angora fire will be extensive; but, eventually, when time and weather permit, the Lambdins’ home will rise again.

For now, the Lambdins are staying at the home of a volunteer with the county’s human services department, where Paula Lambdin works. The 86-year-old woman lives near Heavenly.

“She’s 86 and volunteers 20 hours a week,” said Paula Lambdin. “Her name is Marvella, and that’s exactly what she is — a marvel.”

The Lambdins have found a temporary rental, which they hope to move into by Thursday. State Farm will pay the rent and deposits directly to their landlord, “to take some pressures off of the family,” said Barkhurst.

The State Farm Catastrophe Team is in the Tahoe area seven days a week now, and expect to be here for at least the next two months. “With this type of a loss, it’s hard for a person to think of all the questions they would ask (me),” said Barkhurst. “Usually the next day they have 10 more questions that they forgot to ask you, so we’re here to handle all their concerns.”

As for the Lambdins, they are moving forward. Their neighborhood plans on still holding their annual Fourth of July Parade, a tradition started years ago by a neighborhood teen.

“There’s lots of food, and the kids get all dressed up and put a boom-box in a wagon, and the adults join in,” Paula said.

They feel blessed to have all the support that they’ve received in the last week, and look forward to rebuilding in this community that they call their home.

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