SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Lee Vickrey took a hit from the downturn in the economy.
"I wound up getting cut-back short time," said Vickrey. "And when I got cut-back short time my wife lost her job."
With few options and a new baby on the way, Vickrey decided to join the U.S. Air Force. During basic training he sent nearly all his pay home. He and his wife saved up to buy bed, living and baby room furniture.
"And then come down here and it's just gone," said Vickrey.
The furniture wasn't stolen, it was soaked. The storage unit he rented at Gateway Storage in Salisbury flooded while he was finishing up training in Texas.
"The boxes just fell apart," said Vickrey.
He moved the water logged furniture to his in-law's garage. The wood was swollen, nails were popped and the sofa sleeper was turned into one, big, expensive sponge. A stream of water poured out it when the mattress was pulled out.
"It had to be underwater for quite sometime to soak up that much," said Vickrey.
$3700 in furniture was trashed.
"They're (Gateway Storage) saying they're not responsible for any damage whatsoever," said Vickrey.
The owner of Gateway Storage is Cameron Dunlap. He can be found on the internet flying his plane and pitching his seminars on how to make big bucks buying foreclosed properties. In one on-line video Dunlap talks about cashing a check for more than $100,000 he had just received.
Dunlap has not returned WBTV's calls. His business partner Brian Harris said he feels horrible about what happened, but said Gateway Storage doesn't have the money to help the Vickreys.
The rental agreement the Vickreys signed says the company is not responsible for any damage.
In a statement sent to WBTV Harris said "as uncommon as this circumstance is, this is a prime example of why we suggest to each tenant that they should purchase tenant insurance to protect their items." The statement goes on to say "the Vickrey's initialed next to that clause, acknowledging that we do not provide insurance and its recommended they get it, but they chose not to."
The insurance issue is not as clear cut as it sounds. Losses to fire, theft, wind damage, or a burst water pipe would be covered if you had a typical homeowners, or renters policy. Flood damage coverage requires government backed flood insurance. It takes 30 days from the time you sign up for it to go into effect.
Harris also said their investigation could find no cause of the flooding, but right after it happened a french drain was cut into the ground leading away from Vickrey's rented unit.
Right now the Vickrey's have few options.
"Borrow furniture from family," said Vickrey. "There's just nothing else we can do."