HOUSTON – Five days after an explosion took two lives and damaged more than 400 homes in northwest Houston, one local attorney is advocating for homeowners in finding out what happened and who should be held accountable.
The attorney walked through several of his client’s homes.
"This is a huge catastrophic disaster where people have lost their homes," Rob Kwok, with Kwok Daniel Law Firm, said.
Kwok is representing more than 115 homeowners who live in northwest Houston. Travis Horton said he lives walking distance from where Watson Grinding and Manufacturing’s facility exploded.
“This is shifted all the way from the floor and now the whole structure is pushed that way,” said Horton, a client and resident.
Kwok said homeowners should be wary of insurance companies and should consider hiring an advocate who will fight for homeowners.
"These insurance companies are only looking out for their bottom line, and so you're not going to get the best offer from this insurance company directly--you need an advocate that's going to go in and help you get the right value for your home. That's what we're doing," Kwok said.
Kwok also said that they are in the process of doing their own investigation into what happened.
"I had the first signed temporary restraining order. I've had experts on standby since this weekend. They still will not let us into the blast site so we're waiting," Kwok said.
Meanwhile, the company's CEO messaged this statement:
“We understand and appreciate the intense interest in supporting the community who have been affected by last week’s incident. It’s heartbreaking to see our neighbors struggle.
“To correct comments I made earlier today, no claims process has been established at this time. Who is at fault and who will pay for damages cannot be determined at this early stage.
“We too continue to manage the immediate aftermath and evaluate options around how to support the community. Our priority remains working with federal, state and local officials to secure the site and ensure safety for the area. In terms of next steps, there is a process that must be followed, and it takes time. A complete investigation is essential to determine the cause and identify potentially responsible parties. At this point, it is premature for the insurers to make any decisions with regard to payment from this tragic incident.
“Finally, we express our heartfelt gratitude to our neighbors and the entire Houston community for your patience, understanding, and support during this difficult time. This is a very complex matter and as soon as there is more information available, we expect it will be communicated quickly.”
While the company is not assuming responsibility for the explosion, even if they did, Kwok said he is still concerned for homeowners.
“Watson Grinding is going to have a certain amount of insurance, and I don’t think that’s going to be enough to cover all the extent of the damages. This is a huge catastrophic...disaster,” Kwok said.
For now, Kwok said homeowners should look to protect themselves.
"You are under no obligation to sign any legal documents because you are binding yourself into a legal contract. Make sure before you sign anything that you have gotten some advice from some legal professional," Kwok said.
Townhall meeting on Wednesday
Houston Councilwoman Amy Peck is holding a town hall for homeowners:
Town Hall Scheduled for Those Impacted by the Explosion
The District A office is hosting a town hall for those impacted by the explosion at Watson Grinding & Manufacturing:
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Recovery Center)
4703 East Shadowdale Drive
Houston, Texas 77041
This is your opportunity to get assistance, ask questions, and meet with:
The American Red Cross
Mental Health America
Memorial Assistance Ministries
Various City departments
This meeting is for those impacted by the explosion. While no one will be turned away, please be respectful of those who are going through this difficult time. If you were not impacted by the explosion and you have a question, you do have the option of contacting our office instead of coming to the meeting.