Fire victims take first steps in recovery process

SAN MARCOS, Calif. - The first insurance teams have begun walkthroughs in the burn areas.

Dan and Susan Eubank can count the number of things that survived the flames on two hands. Their 4,100-square-foot dream home on Indian Ridge Road, which was built in 1982, was destroyed in the Cocos Fire.

Still, both had kept their emotions in check until their three children visited.

"They grew up in this house, and they came down Sunday and the reunion was pretty tearful for everybody," said Dan Eubank.

A day later, the emotion gave way to reality of the recovery process. An insurance team arrived for a first walkthrough of the custom-built home, which had unique art pieces in every corner.

Dan Eubank, a retired architect and contractor, says he shot a video of the home and all their belongings. The tape burned but he had it backed it up.

His main concern is the amount of coverage. While he did not want to talk numbers, he says he will probably get enough to pay off the bank loan but will not receive much more.

"I won't owe anything and I'll own all of this," he said, pointing to the remnants of his home.

Eubank, like so many in the 2003 and 2007 wildfires, was underinsured. After the 2007 wildfires, 75 percent of the fire victims found themselves underinsured by an average of $250,000.

He faces the prospect of taking out another loan to rebuild.

"It's supposed to be my golden years … not quite getting there," he said.

Yet, he vows to get to rebuilding quickly a home with a foundation of memories.

"I just want to put it back while I'm still around," he said.

According to the nonprofit group United Policyholders, after the 2007 wildfires, most claims took two to three years to settle, and it took another year or more before many residents rebuilt and moved back in.

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