Victims of devastating house collapse call for help

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Nina Pineda has 7 On Your Side. (WABC)

A family in Queens survived a harrowing collapse in their home that could have been tragic for their baby. Yet, they still faced a tough challenge ahead: Getting money for the repairs.

The young couple sunk all their savings investing in their first home. They insured it and paid their premiums every month, then had the catastrophe that put them out on the street when they say their insurance company refused to pay.

One-year-old Keira Maher was sleeping in her crib moments before the collapse, which happened right underneath where she was sleeping.

"I ran and got the kids upstairs, and my wife grabbed the baby," dad Sean Maher said.

The only warning the family had was the sheet rock in their basement suddenly bulging.

"As soon as we saw it, the neighbor yelled, 'Get the baby,'" mom Danielle Maher said. "And I ran, and before I even got out with her and the dogs, we could feel the whole thing come down."

"Five minutes later, the whole thing collapsed," Sean said.

The Mahers didn't worry, because the policy they took out on their Maspeth home covers collapse.

"The adjuster came out with the agent, and that's when the whole tune changed," Danielle said. "That was six weeks ago."

The State Farm inspection report said the denial was because the collapse was due to the building foundation having substandard and weak construction, even though it had stood for nearly a century.

So the Mahers hired their own engineer, who blamed the collapse on hidden decay, something covered in their State Farm homeowner's insurance policy.

"He also said it was mortar joint decay from the cellar, so you couldn't see it," Danielle said.

Ordered to vacate the property and unable to come up with the money to repair the home, the Mahers say they had no other choice but to live in a hotel.

"What do we do?" Danielle said. "We're a young couple. It estimates $225,000 worth of damage. Where do we come up with that?"

So 7 On Your Side contacted State Farm, asking the insurance giant to take another look at the Mahers' claim. And just days later, Danielle and Sean says State Farm reconsidered. Now, renovation has begun, and so far, the Mahers say they've received more than $232,000.

"We are so thankful for 7 On Your Side," Danielle said. "It was only a few days, and we truly believe it wouldn't have happened without you."

State Farm's rep said the company can't comment on the Maher's case since it's ongoing, but agents continue to work with the couple's claim. The Mahers have been told by their public adjuster that they could receive up to about $60,000, putting their total claim at nearly $300,000.

Related Topics:
realestate7 On Your Sidereal estateinsurancehomeownerscollapseNew York CityMaspeth
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