National Weather Service photo of  tornado damage Monday.

National Weather Service photo of tornado damage Monday.

Many Iowans are still cleaning up the damage left by Monday’s one-two punch of severe weather.

Thunderstorms and 95-mile an hour winds whipped across northern Iowa in the morning, then a powerful tornado carved a 25-mile path across three southern Iowa counties that evening.

Jim Hegarty, with the Better Business Bureau, says Iowans who have damage need to beware of fast-talking crooks. “Out-of-town repair firms drift in and may go door-to-door, offer to do your repairs very quickly,” Hegarty says. “They may demand cash up-front and we would never advise doing that.” Hegarty says these “storm chasers” often go from state to state to prey on disaster victims.

“These travelers don’t have the consumers’ best interests at heart, they might try to take advantage of folks,” he says. “You really want to be careful with door-to-door solicitations. Take your time, check them out, call the bureau and we’ll let you know whether you’re dealing with a reliable firm or not.”

While damage was widespread across many areas of the state, no serious injuries were reported. Governor Branstad issued a disaster proclamation for Davis, Humboldt, Monroe and Wright counties, which will help provide grants for things like food, clothing and temporary housing. Given all of the wicked wind, some Iowans may need help from professionals with roof repairs and tree trimming.

“We may get some folks from out of the area that may or may not be reputable,” Hegarty says. “We’re not saying all of these folks are bad news. Sometimes, they provide a valuable service but a lot of times, you want to be really cautious.”

Hegarty says before signing any deals, call your insurance company and do what’s recommended. He says never pay anyone up-front for repairs and always get details in writing before making a decision.