Huntsville family without heat two weeks after home damaged during police standoff

Since we first talked with the Rhodes back in November, they've found even more damage. They said repairs are expected to cost thousands of dollars.

Posted: Dec 1, 2020 5:51 PM
Updated: Dec 9, 2020 1:31 PM

A Huntsville family will fight the bitter cold with limited heat again Tuesday night, still looking at the destruction left behind after a deadly shooting in front of their home in the Five Points area last month.

We first talked to the Rhodes family hours after the fatal shooting of a man involved in a standoff with police at a nearby restaurant. They showed us the bullet holes in their bedroom and the damage done to their air conditioning units.

They told WAAY 31, since then, the city's contacted them about fixing their house. Nothing's been done, many outlets in their home aren't working and they have no reliable heat. (Read a response from the city of Huntsville below)

It's been two weeks since the Rhodes family's home was hit by bullets as Huntsville police fired their weapons trying to stop an armed man who waved a gun at them after coming off the Ted's Bar-B-Q roof. The family wants the damage from the shooting fixed, and even more importantly, heat back in their home.

"We kind of put off a little bit because we kept thinking we'd hear from them and there'd be some workers in and out and around the house."

Tuesday afternoon, Sandra Rhodes and her husband, RJ, worked to decorate their Christmas tree inside their Old Towne home.

"It's the event of the year for my grands. It's going to be a little hard to explain why there is a bullet hole in Nana and Papa's bedroom wall, so we're just waiting patiently for someone to get back with us," he said.

The Rhodes family is dreaming of a warm Christmas this year.

"We are experiencing no heat, and with this latest downturn of the weather, it's been extremely hard to keep warm. We had to purchase two or three space heaters at an expense we didn't plan to have right here at Christmas," she said.

Sandra explained they're doing what they can to keep warm.

"I had on two pairs of socks and I still have on long underwear, so it got cold," Sandra added.

Both of their AC units were hit by bullets and stopped working after the shooting. RJ Rhodes said a heating company they hired rigged a temporary fix to pull emergency heat from one of the two broken units, but the cost to keep just the upstairs of their house warm is far from cheap.

"You can click it over now, as of today, and put some heat upstairs. They said within a week, you can expect a $1,000 heat bill," he said.

Both are just waiting for answers from the city and its adjuster they sent to review the damage.

"Let's solve all this thing at one time. Get the electricians out. Get the air condition people, and take their word for it. They know what they're doing," RJ said.

"I'm just hoping that here during the Christmas season, somebody is going to make it right, someone's going to do the right thing," Sandra added.

WAAY 31 reached out to the city's legal team trying to learn more about when the Rhodes might get their house fixed and heat back inside. We're still waiting to hear back from them.

Response from the city of Huntsville to WAAY 31's Sydney Martin:

Ms. Martin,

I have been provided with a copy of your email correspondence yesterday afternoon to my associate, Jeanne Rizzardi, requesting comment on a claim asserted by Mr. RJ Rhodes for damage to his home at the above address in connection with the tragic events of November 16-17, at and near Ted’s BBQ in Five Points.

Per your email, Mr. Rhodes maintains he was “working with the City’s legal team for repairs to (his) home and…the process seems to have stalled out”. This is an inaccurate assessment in that, as you will learn herein, the response to Mr. Rhodes’ claim has been immediate and appropriate.

Mr. Rhodes contacted our office on the afternoon of November 17 (the date of the incident), whereupon his contact information was forwarded to our in-office Claims Coordinator (CC).

The CC contacted Mr. Rhodes the very next morning (November 18)and confirmed his claim for damage to his residence.

I authorized the CC to assign assessment of the damage to our outside adjustment firm, even though we did not yet have a formal claim form from Mr. Rhodes or documentation from HPD, in recognition that he had no heat.

The claim was called in to the adjustment firm that same morning and immediately assigned to an adjuster. The adjuster was onsite at the Rhodes residence the following morning (November 19), spoke with Mr. Rhodes and with the HVAC contractor Mr. Rhodes had come out to look at his HVAC unit.

Upon authority from my office, the adjuster offered to have Garrison & Garrison, the original installers of the damaged HVAC system, come out and replace the unit, with the City reimbursing them directly for the cost thereof, which could be accomplished in two days.

However, Mr. Rhodes advised he did not want to proceed with replacement of the unit at that time, but wanted to see a full report from the adjuster as to all damages to his home before authorizing the work to be done.

The adjuster also arranged for a contractor (P & G Construction) to come that same day to evaluate other internal and external damage to the residence.

Only yesterday did we learn (through your email) that Mr. Rhodes now claims damage to his second A/C unit (which services the upstairs). I spoke with the same HVAC contractor yesterday and was advised they are still in the process of evaluating the second unit (as to the cause of its failure and need for repair or replacement).

So, as you can see, the City has been very responsive to Mr. Rhodes’ claim. He could already have a new downstairs unit installed and operating, at City expense, but for his lack of authorization. We have just yesterday learned about the claim of damage to the upstairs unit.

Evaluation of other damage to the residence was promptly initiated and the assessment made by P & G Construction was received by the adjuster yesterday. The adjuster’s damage assessment was received in my office this morning, and Mr. Rhodes will soon be contacted relative thereto.

We regret the damage to the Rhodes residence as a result of this most tragic event, but we are certainly responding expeditiously to rectify that situation. I would also point out that only two weeks have elapsed since this tragic incident, which period included the Thanksgiving holiday. It seems a bit unreasonable, in light of the above, to characterize the process as “stalled out”! We will continue to work with Mr. Rhodes to compensate him for his loss in a fair and expeditious manner.

Trey Riley

City Attorney

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