Man displaced by Greenville apartment fire also lost everything during Matthew

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Among the 19 people displaced by a Greenville apartment fire early Saturday morning was Chris Smith.

Smith had only lived in the Greenville apartment for two months after being flooded out of his apartment in Kinston by Hurricane Matthew.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith

“The first floor was pretty much destroyed, pretty much, and I lost pretty much ever single thing I had down there,” Smith said of his experiences following Matthew. “I had some clothes upstairs so I was able to salvage that.”

After living with his grandmother for a month and saving up money, Smith moved to Greenville in November. But the apartment he moved into ended up being right below where the massive fire Saturday morning started.

“I run out the front door and I look, and I look up, and there’s just fire everywhere. The siding was just melting off, falling everywhere,” he said.

In both cases, Smith was without renters insurance and lost essentially all that he owned. He said he just wasn’t informed enough about the insurance, so he passed on it.

Now, Smith is looking for a new place for a third time in months, but said renters insurance is something he plans on getting.

Insurance agents said stories like Smith’s aren’t that uncommon. Gayle Bailey with Mack Beale State Farm said only about 50 percent of renters actually have renters insurance.

She said while the options for insurance packages vary, the average one covers a one bedroom apartment just fine.

“Probably $20,000 coverage for the personal property, and $100,000 in liability coverage,” Bailey said.

In Greenville, that plan will only cost you about $100 a year. Bailey said the pricing could vary depending on if you live inside or outside of a city.

She said often times people don’t get renters insurance because they don’t think they will need it. But she said now is the time to plan for the worst case scenario.

“Document what you have, and also make sure when you’re purchasing a renters policy, that you’re not buying what is the least expensive,” she said.

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